What's Baking: Florentines

Florentine Cookies || A Less Processed Life

Last week, after a long hiatus, my Book Club reconvened. Although, we call it "Fight Club," because we're edgy like that. "The first rule of Book Club is: You do not talk about Book Club."

Florentine Cookies || A Less Processed Life

We're not sticklers for actually reading the book selections (although of course it is highly recommended), but if you do come to book club, the only rule (well, aside from that First Rule), is that you can't be mad about spoilers. Fair enough.

Florentine Cookies || A Less Processed Life

This month's selection was Heat by Bill Buford, a book with the tagline "An amateur's adventures as kitchen slave, line cook, pasta-maker, and apprentice to a Dante-quoting butcher in Tuscany."

Florentine Cookies || A Less Processed Life

Truth be told, I started to read the book last year (way before it was a Book Club selection) and, for whatever reason, never quite made it to the end. (And I should have, as it's a great tale about the author's times working in the kitchen of Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant in New York City and travel to Italy to learn to make handmade pasta and how to properly butcher meat.) So, I totally cheated and listened to the audiobook. And the abridged audio book at that (5 hrs versus 12 hrs was a no-brainer, plus the abridged version was read by the author.) 

Inspired by Buford's trips to Italy, I decided to bake up a batch of florentine cookies to share at Book Club. (Our host made Love Letters ravioli and maple and mascarpone cheesecakes from Batali's Babbo cookbook, both of which were amazing.) 

These elegant florentine cookies are delicious. I think they work nicely both as-is and with a coating of semisweet chocolate on the bottom. (Truthfully, I found the slathering of melted chocolate on super-delicate cookies a bit, er, tedious. There may have been a few broken cookies involved. So, be careful! and patient! when you get to that step.)

Florentines (printer-friendly version)
makes 30 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour (or all-purpose gluten-free flour)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup almond flour (made from blanched almonds)
2 tablespoons organic 1% milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon finely grated blood orange zest
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add in the sugar, flour, and salt and whisk to combine. Continue whisking until the butter fully incorporates into the batter, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the almond flour and milk, and continue to cook until smooth and slightly thickened.
3. Remove the sauce pot from the heat and stir in the almond extract and orange zest. Let the batter cool for 10 minutes.
4. Drop the batter in rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepped baking sheet, leaving about three inches between cookies. (I cooked 6 cookies per batch.)
5. Bake the cookies for 5-7 minutes (rotating the baking sheet half-way through), or until the cookies turn golden brown around the edges. 
6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet until they set, about 3 minutes. Use a thin spatula to carefully remove the cookies from the baking sheet and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter.
7. After the cookies have completely cooled, use an offset spatula to spread a layer of melted chocolate on the bottom of each cookie. (Be careful! And patient! The cookies are very delicate.) Let sit or refrigerate until the chocolate has completely set. The cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. 

(lightly adapted from this love and olive oil recipe)