National Dessert Day + Florentine Chocolate Bars
The Florentine Shortbread Bar were "sick". These bars are so good, that I couldn't decide it they were a cookie, a candy or a pastry. They were all that, wrapped into one. I love a good Florentine cookies and have been known to make Rose Levy Beranbaum's from time to time. I think it is the caramel aspect of it all. Caramel is my 5th food group. So, if I see caramel anything on a menu I am sure to order it. Finding a recipe with a caramel element, is no different.
In honor of National Dessert Day, I salute all of you chefs, bakers, home cooks, cookbook authors, and fellow food bloggers who continue to inspire me and motivate me to get into my kitchen pretty much seven days a week!
Chocolate Drizzled Florentines
adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
yield: about 60 pieces (depending upon how you cut them)
for the dough
14 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups ( 1lb. 5oz.) all-purpose flour
for the topping
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 Tbls. light corn syrup
7 oz. unsalted butter
3/4 cup honey
1 cup heavy cream
17 oz. sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 cup chopped dried apricot
3 oz. each semisweet chocolate + bittersweet chocolate
make the dough:
• in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, zest, sugar, and salt and beat until light and fluffy. add the egg, scraping down the side of the bowl after mixing.
• add the flour, in three batches, mix until well blended.
• form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. chill for 1 hour.
• preheat oven to 350*.
• line a jelly roll pan with heavy duty foil. butter the foil and set aside.
• between two pieces of parchment, roll the dough to 1/4" thick. remove the top layer of the parchment from the dough and flip it into your prepared pan. once in the pan, remove the second sheet of parchment and with your fingers or with the palm of your hand, spread dough so it evenly rests inside the sheet pan. make sure to get it into the corners of the pan.
• chill until firm.
• lay a piece of parchment on top of the chilled dough. set a second jelly roll pan on top of the parchment lined dough (this is a better method than using pie weights) and press gently. the second sheet pan acts as a weight, creating a very even crust when baked.
• bake for 20 minutes and then remove the foil and the sheet pan and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
• cool completely on a wire rack.
for the topping:
• in a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. cook until the mixture becomes amber in color.
• the recipe in the magazine says 350* on your candy thermometer. yet, I found that cooking it until about 315-320* was perfectly amber in color. my was starting to smell "burnt" at this point, so I removed it from the heat.
• carefully add the butter and the honey, return to heat and stir until dissolved.
• bring the mixture back to a boil and carefully add the heavy cream ( it will bubble and this is very hot sugar, so be careful not to burn yourself).
• boil the mixture until it reaches 250* on a candy thermometer.
• remove from the heat and stir in the almonds and dried apricots.
• quickly pour the hot caramel over the cooked baked sugar cookie crust. spread mixture evenly with a greased, off set spatula.
• bake until the top begins to bubble, about 20-25 minutes.
• let cool completely. once cool remove from pan and cut into desired size pieces.
• set cut Florentine bars on 2 parchment lined cookie sheets.
• melt both chocolates on top of a double boiler. once melted add about a tablespoon of corn syrup.
• fill a pastry bag fitted with a very small tip, with the warm chocolate. pipe chocolate onto cookies in whatever pattern you desire.
• set on wire racks so chocolate can set ( you may have to stick in the fridge for a bit).