When Amy first started working at her current teaching job, a group of women used to go, occasionally, on girls' outings. Each "girl" got her turn to plan the outing - one planned a trip to a pottery studio where we learned how to throw a cup; one planned a visit to a meditation center where we were encouraged to talk to our angels; Amy planned a holiday cookie class at a nearby kitchen store.
One of the cookie recipes at said class was for crisp, sugary Florentines. And it was around that time that we (Chris and Amy, that is) started dating, and we used to make those cookies quite often in Chris's little third-floor-apartment-kitchen. Sometimes we made them for a specific occasion; sometimes we made them just because we craved them (yes, they were that good). Sadly, somewhere along the way we lost the recipe. And none of the "girls" have been able to produce it in the last 10 (okay, maybe 12) years. We have (barely) accepted the loss. We have searched far and wide for that recipe, and we have never found anything that was quite right.
Then Chow published their "Crazy-Easy Christmas Cookies" article, and it included what seemed to be a very similar recipe for Florentine Cookies. Our hopes were raised. We knew it wasn't the same, but could it be, (could it? could it be?) just as good??? The suspense was killing us, so we made them on Tuesday night. And no, they are not the same. And no, they are not as good. But it could be that the memory of those particular cookies is not, in fact, reality. Maybe losing that recipe brought on some sort of romantic nostalgia for younger, easier days. Maybe that recipe is just a symbol of time, and friends, gone by. Maybe we weren't meant to have those cookies in our lives anymore.
Still, these Florentines are the closest we've come and we are enjoying every bite. And speaking of bites, this recipe doesn't make a whole lot of cookies (it says 36; we managed about 24), so be prepared and double up! And if you happened to take a holiday cookie class at Kitchens, Etc in West Hartford in the late 90's and you think you have the recipe of which we speak, please PLEASE PLEASE email us!!!
Pour wet mixture into the dry
Lay out on parchment-lined baking sheets
with plenty of room for them to spread out
Note: we have lots of chocolate in our other Christmas treats, so we chose not to drizzle these with chocolate and left that part out of the recipe below.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
Place the almonds, flour, and zest in a medium bowl and toss with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to combine; set aside.
Place the sugar, butter, corn syrup, cream, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the almond mixture, and stir to combine.
Drop heaping teaspoons of the batter at least 3 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets, 6 per sheet. Using a rubber spatula, pat the batter out into 2-inch-wide circles, spreading the almonds into an even single layer.
Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom and bake until the florentines are light golden brown around the edges, about 4 to 5 minutes more.
Remove from the oven to wire racks and let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes. Carefully remove the florentines from the baking sheets with a thin metal spatula, transfer to the wire racks, and cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter—you can reuse the baking sheets and parchment while still warm. Reserve the parchment sheets for drizzling the chocolate over the cooled cookies, if using.
Place the cooled cookies on the reserved parchment sheets. Store the florentines in an airtight container for up to 5 days.