Friday, January 20, 2012

Baking Challenge Week 3 - White Chocolate - Ginger Florentines

I've always liked white chocolate, but all that was coming to mind for this challenge were various drop cookies.  There's nothing wrong with drop cookies--aren't chocolate chip cookies one of the best cookies ever?--but I wanted to try something new.

And I've never made a florentine before...

The recipe I give is a mish-mash from several sources: I drew on three of my cookbooks and this Food Network recipe.

Ginger Florentines
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched, slivered almonds
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • approx. 1 cup white chocolate chips
In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground, but not pasty.  In a medium bowl, combine the ground almonds with the flour, orange zest, ginger, and salt.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cream, honey, and butter.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the butter is melted.  Bring to a boil and boil for one minute.  Pour over the almond mixture and stir just until combined.  Allow to cool long enough to handle, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line several baking sheets with parchment paper, nonstick baking mats, or foil sprayed with nonstick spray.  Shape pieces of dough into 1-inch balls and place 3 to 4 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are entirely flattened and the edges are a deep golden brown.  Cool cookies on the sheet for 2 minutes, gently separating cookies with the edge of a spoon, if necessary.  Lift the paper (or mat or foil) off the sheet and onto a cooling rack, and allow to cool completely..

Place the white chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted.  (Or melt the chocolate in a double boiler.)  Spread the bottom of each cookie with a little chocolate, then using the tines of a fork, scrape off some of the chocolate in wave pattern.  Place back on the cooling rack, chocolate side up, and allow to set.  Store cookies in the refrigerator.

I probably could have gotten a finer grind, but I was a teensy bit worried about making almond butter.  Not what we're going for.
If either orange or ginger doesn't do it for you, feel free to leave it out.  They'd both be good on their own, and I saw several recipes without any spices or added flavors at all.  Though if you leave them both out, you'd probably want to add a little vanilla extract.
Butter, cream, sugar, and honey...what's not to like?
Let it boil just a little bit...
...and add it to the almond mixture.
It doesn't look much like dough at this point, but it will firm up some as it cools.
Ready to go in the oven.  If you have any concerns that your oven can run hot, like mine, keep a close eye on the first batch and adjust your baking time if necessary.  These will burn easily!
These ones I placed far enough apart...
...and these, I definitely did not!
Right out of the oven, the cookies are still soft enough to take a little nudging.  Use the edge of a spoon to round off any wildly irregular edges, or separate cookies that ran together.
Now, for the chocolate bottoms!
This one got it a little thick, but you get the idea.  It takes a little practice to get good coverage without massive amounts of chocolate.
And this one's a little thin, perhaps, but see those pretty wavy lines?  Forks are magic!

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