Saturday, December 7, 2013

Florentines: HOLIDAY DELICIOUSNESS

*lures unsuspecting victim into blog post with pictures of cookies*
If your version of a holiday recipe is 1) open a bag of chips and 2) pour chips into a bowl, it’s about time to shake things up a little. The holiday season is the best time to try baking something new; we're trapped indoors anywho. Not to mention the warmth of the stove or the oven combats chill, the reward of delicious (if imperfect) food,and the perfect gift to give. Food is one of the best presents to give because it is not only delicious, but also fairly inexpensive and simple to prepare. If, however, your mind immediately pictures your kitchen engulfed in flames or, any other manner of kitchen disaster, fear not! All that it requires is a little elbow grease and some love and time. With that said, here is a delicious holiday recipe for Florentine cookies that make the perfect holiday present (or snack just for you!). 

Orange Chocolate Florentines 

Contrary to what the name might have you believe, the Florentine cookie did not originate in Florence, nor are they distinct to the region (they pretend to be Italian in the name of sophistication, I'm fairly certain). These delicious thin, crunchy, almond based biscuits are perfect with a cup of tea in cold winter months. If you would like to to gift to a friend, simply box in a pretty and/or hand decorated container- keep in mind that air-tight containers will allow them to stay fresh and crunchy for longer. If you would like to gift to an enemy, BOX IN ONE OF THESE AND LAUGH MANIACALLY AS THEY STRUGGLE (or any other devious plan that may come to mind!). 

Ingredients (adapted from the Ottolenghi recipe) :
Vegetable oil for brushing
2 egg whites
1 cup and 2tbs confectioners’ sugar
2 ¾ cups sliced almonds
grated zest of one orange (~1 tbs), substitute 1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 4 ounces of dark, milk or semisweet (depending on your personal preference, milk being the sweetest option) chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar

1. Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. On a baking tray, place parchment paper then brush lightly with vegetable oil.
2. Mix almonds, orange, vanilla, sugar, and egg whites in a bowl. The egg white and sugar should form a "glue" for the almonds. Get a bowl of cold water on the side. This where you should dip your hands before forming small mounds of the mixture. Space them out evenly on the baking sheet. Before “squishing” down each mound, dip your fork in the cold-water bowl (aim for three inch cookies in diameter). They should be very thin but without gaps between each almond (much thinner than your average cookie).
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until they start to get golden brown and crispy. Make sure they get cooked all the way through.
4. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds. Remove and stir. Repeat microwaving and stirring until the chocolate melted through. Make sure it does not get too hot, or it will burn and look uneven.
5. To make Florentine-chocolate sandwiches, dollop some chocolate into the middle of two cookies and let cool. Otherwise, you could dip half of a Florentine into the chocolate or brush chocolate onto one side of the cookie, and let cool. Store in an airtight container if possible.



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