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!


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?