Saturday, December 1, 2012

Favorite Christmas Cookie

by Lucy Arlington


I adore baking cookies. They are little bites of sweetness, easy to make, and loved by practically everyone. Almost as much as making them, I delight in eating them--fresh from the oven, cooled and stored in a tin, even icy cold from the freezer. Ask anyone who knows me. They’ll tell you I’m a cookie monster (even though I don’t have blue fur).
So one of my favorite tasks, when it comes to preparing for Christmas, is baking Christmas cookies. For years I would try new recipes, producing a collection of colorful and tasty treats to share with friends and family. But over time my family settled on their favorites, and now at Christmas my cookie plate has just seven varieties--black forest cookies for Eric, raspberry pinwheels for Lindsay, chocolate crackles for Stuart, cranberry shortbread chews for Jake, speeculaas for Richard, Christmas biscotti for me. And Florentines. Hands down, Florentines are the family’s all-time number one choice for Christmas treats. If I only made one kind of cookie, they would all choose the Florentine.

You might ask, what are Florentines? Clusters of fruit and nuts baked in thin sweet batter and backed with chocolate. Not only delicious, but beautiful, too, like small round stained glass windows.

So in honor of it being December first (twenty-five days to Christmas!), I thought I would share my recipe for Florentines with you. Baking them is easy, painting the chocolate on can be messy and tedious, since you have to do each one individually. But once you take your first bite, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it is worth the effort!

Happy December, everyone!

FLORENTINES

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 cups chopped mixed dried fruits (I used currants, papaya, cherries, apricots, cranberries, pineapple, almonds and cashews, all chopped to be about the size of the currants.)
4 squares chocolate

1. In heavy pan, bring the butter, cream, and sugar slowly to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Make sure that all the fruit is coated with the batter.

2. Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto baking parchment. Flatten each mound with a wet fork.  Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

3. Cool briefly on baking sheets, then transfer with a spatula to a rack and cool completely.

4. Melt 4 squares chocolate (temper it if possible) and spread on the backs of the cookies when they are completely cool. (It takes a few hours for the chocolate to harden again)

Do you have a cookie recipe that's a family favorite?

8 comments:

  1. Hmm speculaas is definitely a Dutch cookie! I eat them year round. They keep hard and fresh for months. Traditionally it is a december treat, like the soft speculaas filled with almond paste (is that a correct word?) In Dutch it is called "spijs".
    But all those other cookies sure sound good.

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  2. I just baked Italian butter cookies last night. I started a day early. My daughter's favorite is my Scotch shortbread. But everyone's favorite is Raspberry Almond shortbread. They are a soft cookie with a thumbprint of raspberry jelly and drizzled with almond icing. Yum! I will definately be trying your Florentine recipe. They sound wonderful. Happy Holidays!

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  3. My Granny used to make Pfeffernusse Cookies and she would always send us a big batch. We had a bakery around here that made and sold them, but I haven't been able to find them in the past few years. Fortunately an author friend posted a recipe for them last year so I may try to make them myself this year.

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  4. Aurian, I'm Dutch, and yes, the speculaas that I baked is the filled one from my mother's recipe. Delicious!

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  5. Jeannie, those Raspberry Almond Shortbread cookies sound scrumptious!

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  6. Sue, definitely try to make Pfeffernusse Cookies. I've never baked them, but my sister did and they were wonderful. I love them.

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  7. Our family favorite all year round is my Choco-Chunk Peanut-Butter Oatmeal Goodies. They're one of those cookies that "developed" as I experimented, and everyone justifies eating anytime of day--even breakfast--because the peanut butter offers protein, the honey just fights the idea of eating too much refined sugar, the rolled oats offer fiber, and the chocolate fights stress. At least that's our story and we're all sticking to it.

    I keep frozen balls of "cookable" dough in the freezer--just quick-freeze them on a cookie sheet, then transfer to freezer bags to I can pluck out as many or as little as I need at a time.

    I think this cookie is our family's version of your Florintine, as its the one I always have to put out, and I think it might just be because it offers a "no icing" alternative. Don't get me wrong, I love my Christmas sugar cookies, but a change of taste makes life all the sweeter.

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  8. Joanie, your Choco-Chunk Peanut-Butter Oatmeal Goodies sound delicious. And so healthy! :-) I bet my family would love them too. Care to share the recipe?

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