You may think you don't know what Florentine cookies are, but chances are that you do.
They are those thin, lacy disks of ground almonds bound with buttery caramel and gilded with bittersweet chocolate that you see in upscale pastry shops. And the ones that you probably eat first whenever they appear on a cookie platter.
Any lack of familiarity with their name is because most people don't make them at home. They have a reputation for being fussier and more unpredictable than the average cookie.
But here's the thing.
Although bakery-quality Florentines require a careful formula, they’re actually less work to make than most cookies because the dough doesn't need a stand mixer—just a brief stir in a saucepan.
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Florentines start out like candy, with butter, sugar, and cream cooked in a saucepan until the mixture reaches 238 degrees (that's when cooked sugar reaches the “soft ball” phase where it is solid but still pliable).
Then they veer into cookie territory as flour, almonds, candied citrus, and sometimes dried fruit are stirred in to form a loose dough.
Spoonfuls are heaped on baking sheets and baked until each forms a thin, crisp, perfectly browned disc punctuated by the fine, lacy holes that are characteristic of Florentines.
Sounds pretty simple, right? But if things don't go well, you wind up with mottled, chewy, amoeba-like blobs.
Factor in the uncertainty of whether the chocolate coating will be firm and shiny or remain sticky and dull, and it's no wonder that most people leave this cookie to the pros.
Florentine Lace CookiesThe easy part about these cookies is that most of the work takes place in a saucepan. The harder part? Perfecting their delicate lacy shape and glossy chocolate coating.
How We Foolproof Florentine Lace Cookies
With our tweaks, you can make cookies that look and taste like they came straight from a bakery case.
2. Swap candied orange peel for marmalade. Candied orange peel can sometimes taste flat and bake up hard. So we turned to a secret ingredient used in the Florentines from Cookie Time Bakery in Arlington, Massachusetts and which proprietor Barbara Weniger generously divulged: orange marmalade. Thanks to the marmalade's concentrated flavor, Andrea’s Florentines have a complex, citrusy zing that contrasts with the rich, caramelly base.
3. Faux-temper the chocolate. Andrea devised a great faux-tempering method that involves melting part of the chocolate at 50 percent power in the microwave and then stirring in the remainder—a very gentle approach that keeps the chocolate glossy when it re-solidifies.
4. Decorate with easy chocolate zigzags. Instead of covering one side of the cookies in melted chocolate, which is more common (and laborious), she simply pipes a little over the top of each cookie with a zipper-lock bag with a snipped off corner.
The Perfect CookieThe definitive hardbound go-to resource for any cookie or bar you could imagine making, based on 30+ years of experience in the pursuit of the perfect cookie recipes.
Our Florentine Lace Cookies Step-by-Step
- Make Caramel. Heat cream, butter, and sugar in saucepan until thick and brown at edges.
2. Make Dough. Off heat, stir in ground almonds, marmalade, flour, vanilla, orange zest, and salt
3. Drop and Shape. Spoon dough onto parchment paper–lined baking sheets and press into circles.
4. Bake and Cool. Bake cookies until uniformly brown; transfer on parchment paper to cooling racks. Let sheets cool for 10 minutes; repeat with remaining dough.
5. “Temper” Chocolate. Microwave some chocolate at 50 percent power, stirring frequently, until two-thirds melted. Stir in remaining chocolate until smooth.
6. Pipe and Chill. Pour chocolate into zipper-lock bag, snip off corner, and pipe onto cookies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set chocolate.
With Florentines as crisp, buttery, nutty, and elegant as these, I know exactly what I’ll be giving my Valentine this year.