Tag Archives: bake

Almond Florentines

Cookies Part 3 of 4.

almond florentine: the orange zest makes all the difference
almond florentine: the orange zest makes all the difference

(originally from a Food Network recipe, with minimal substitution)

Makes: ~5 dozen 3-inch Florentines, or 2 1/2 dozen 6-inch Florentine
Total Time: 1 hr 35 min
Prep 30 min
Inactive 45 min
Cook 20 min

I first had these a few years ago at Zeitgeist Kunst & Kaffee, a coffee shop in downtown Seattle near my work, and it lit up this light bulb in my head that insisted I look it up to make myself an infinite supply. It has a great crunch, and the orange zest with chocolate drizzle is just the right combination.

Ingredients
* 1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces) (I still have no idea what unblanched almonds would be, I just buy sliced almonds, however they come)
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (can substitute: almond flour, same amount)
* Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
* 1/4 teaspoon fine salt (I use kosher salt without much consequence)
* 3/4 cup raw sugar
* 2 tablespoons heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping, optional (but why would you ever skip it):
* 2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

Directions
– Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
– Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.
– Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, ~30 minutes.
– Scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 to 3 inches (shrink accordingly with cookie size) between each cookie since they spread.
– Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

“Optional” chocolate topping:
– Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl (or smaller saucepan).
– Bring a (larger) saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very low simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth.
-Drizzle melted chocolate over Florentines as desired (after trial with chopsticks, metal spoons, and other options, a rubber spatula works best).
– Set aside at room temperature until chocolate is set.

Storage tip: Store baked cookies carefully, separated by parchment or waxed paper, in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Florentines are best stored separated from moist cookies and cakes.

Note: Special thanks to my chocolate-know-how friend for advising that getting any water in the smaller sauce pan (including a porous wooden spoon that’s wet), and using any metal for distribution would cool the chocolate too fast.

Today’s Cookie Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars
In my head, this is a big ordeal to make (not especially true), so when I do make them, it still feels novel. Plus, that crunch!
Likelihood of Repeat: 99%
Chocolate, almonds, sugar, and orange zest, yum yum yum! This time I even verified that you can make it with gluten-free flour for your gluten-liberated friends, hooray! Try it with some tea or coffee too.

Renee’s Grandma’s Sugar Cookies (a.k.a. Ardene Hindman’s)

Cookies Part 2 of 4.
Happy Thanksgiving to any fellow American friends out there! Maybe with the long weekend, you’ll want to try a cookie recipe?

sugar cookies: if gluten-free, roll between saran wrap, and add flour for less stickiness.
sugar cookies: if gluten-free, roll between saran wrap, and add flour for less stickiness.

Renee’s Grandma’s Sugar Cookies (a.k.a. Ardene Hindman)
Makes: ummmm, a whole bunch of cookies. I lost count, and I only did a half portion from what’s prescribed below.
Total Time: 60 minutes+, due to cooling time

Ingredients & Directions, per Renee:
“Cream 2 c sugar and 1 c butter.
Add 3 eggs, 1 c sour cream, 1 t salt, 2 t baking powder, 1 t lemon extract, 6 c flour.
Chill for 1-2 hours
Bake at 375 for 8 min (I do these thinly rolled with cookie cutter shapes)

+After cooling, this is the frosting, which, how my great grandma did it, went on the flat side (or what you’d think of as the back):

4 oz cream cheese
2 1/3 c powdered sugar
4 T butter
1 1/2 t vanilla

Soften cream cheese and butter in the microwave, add sugar and vanilla.
Then, of course, pretty sprinkles…”

Note: I found I bought the wrong lemon vial, so I used a combo of equal parts lemon flavor, rum, and lemon rind.

Okay, I confess, I only did the mixing and refrigerating (one batch with regular all purpose flour, the other with pamela’s gluten-free), my gluten-free friend did a lot of the rolling out, and chocolate friend did the frosting (more on chocolate friend in the 4th post). Thanks to Renee for her grandma’s recipe, and kudos to her grandma, who raised the woman who raised the woman I have been good friends with since college, who has always had a sage word in difficult times, and kept me in my sense of humor. Good luck on your Thanksgiving, Renee!

Today’s Cookie Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am familiar with sugar, and I’m familiar with cookies, but never any with sour and cream cheese..
Likelihood of Repeat: 65%
I definitely think this is worth trying again. More recent discussion with Renee has revealed that her mom only puts a thin layer of frosting on, which may explain the reviews from friends who said, “wow. that’s really sweet, I think I know some one who would like that..” Cookies pictured above were the gluten-free ones, which ended up with chocolate drizzles after we ran out of frosting. I am curious if it might be easier to roll out with more refrigeration after mixing so you can use cookie cutters, or if it’s just meant to be rolled into balls and flattened, definitely worth trying again to find out.

Cookie Mania!
Gingersnaps

Cookies Part 1 of 4.
Last Saturday night, the ingredients for baking cookies and cookie-like items started amassing on my kitchen countertop..

ingredients inventory: marshaling up the troops
ingredients inventory: marshaling up the troops

Okay, so they weren’t doing it all on their own. I did an inventory for my ideas to figure out what I still needed to get at the store.

insane inventory of ingredients to consolidate what was not already in the pantry
insane inventory of ingredients to consolidate what was not already in the pantry

Clearly, I overcommitted on types of cookies:

  • gingersnaps
  • chocolate chip
  • sugar cookies
  • sweet & spicy almonds
  • macaroons
  • almond florentines (my personal favorite)

Layer on top of that the plan to make some of the sugar cookies and florentines gluten-free and we have confirmation I was seized by that once-a-year crazy cookie spirit that happens around now. Must be the primal need to store up fat for the winter or something. I also stopped taking photos, as I suffer increasing embarrassment the more photos I take (even if the cookies aren’t asking me to stop). I conned a couple friends to come over and help (with the promise that they could also just come help eat them), thanks, friends! They were the saving grace, both from all their extra hands, baking expertise, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough (thus enabling me to abandon my non-GF efforts of that), and even a special macaroon recipe (thus allowing me to entirely cede any claim to making the macaroons with my own hands). 4 out of 6 ain’t bad. I often forget the particulars of baking things since I don’t bake year-round, so it was nice to have a few more brains in the mess. Hopefully they didn’t feel trapped at my house into baking hell..

A few rules I try to remember:

  • Always set the time for a little less than prescribed so you can check the food, or check it a little before the time.
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients separately before putting them together, so they distribute well.
  • Scale your recipe to the amount of the key ingredient you have.
  • Get other people to eat too so you aren’t sick later from too much sugar.

Less words, more food pr0n!

Since I overcommitted on the cookies in one day, I’ll be more reasonable here and post one recipe at a time (4 total) during this special holiday weekend. Let’s start with the gingersnaps, since it is a pretty enduring recipe I pull out every year, after that initial year when a certain ‘roommate’ started teasing me for baking it so many times (but that is how you get good at it!).

gingersnaps
gingersnaps

Gingersnaps
(originally from Joy of Cooking pg 707)
Makes: around 70 tiny cookies
Total Processing Time: 30-60 minutes

Ingredients & Directions
Preheat oven 325 F
(cream together..)
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar (raw sugar is fine)
(stir in..)
2 well-beaten eggs
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp vinegar
(sift & add..)
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2-3 tsp ginger (powdered, not fresh)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves

Mix ingredients until blended. Form dough into dime-sized balls. Bake on a greased cookie sheet about 12 minutes. As ball melts, cookie gets crinkled surface. When cool, ice to taste (or in my case, not at all). Makes about 60 little cookies.

This one below I don’t have the recipe for, and can’t really take any credit for making..

macaroons: thanks to my friend's expertise!
macaroons: thanks to my friend’s expertise!

We had extra chocolate from the florentines (recipe in upcoming post), so we drizzled the macaroons too.

"hello! we're cookies! please eat us!"
The final product: little gift bag of cookies. “hello! we’re cookies! please eat us!”

Today’s Cookie Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
1 of 5 stars
Likelihood of Repeat: 85%
I think I could bake these on a heavy dose of Ativan at this point..but it’s a nice standard recipe with ingredients that keep well in a pantry over time, and isn’t too sweet that you can’t eat more than one. It’s also quite tasty with a cup of hot tea or coffee.