Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Florentine Lace Cookies


We tested this recipe shortly before it got published in Cook's Illustrated, but it was very different when we tested it (which is why ATK tests their recipes with regular users). The original recipe had us make the cookies into sandwiches with chocolate in between. The published version is much simpler (thankfully).

These orange and almond-flavored lace cookies drizzled with bittersweet chocolate are slim, sophisticated, and suitable for a special occasion. You can find it online here if you subscribe to Cook's Illustrated's online magazine.

The video is helpful because you can see what the caramel should look like before you add the rest of the ingredients. Do not undercook.

Before drizzling melted chocolate onto cookies, be sure to cover the work area with parchment paper or wax paper. The chocolate will drip through the holes of the cookie!

Also, clear a place in the fridge for warm cookies to firm up before drizzling the chocolate. Freezing them works great for storage, too. The recipe is easily halved.

SUGGESTION: It's good to measure out and prep all the ingredients first. Put the cream butter and sugar into a saucepan. Everything else can go in one bowl and mixed lightly, but I keep the vanilla and marmalade separate.


INGREDIENTS:
2 cups (8 ounces) slivered almonds (or whole almonds, then processed)
¾ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) sugar
¼ cup orange marmalade
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon grated orange zest
¼ teaspoon salt


FOR THE FILLING:
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate


PREPARATION:
1. Process almonds in food processor until they resemble coarse sand, about 30 seconds, or a little longer if using whole almonds.

2. In medium saucepan, bring cream, butter, and sugar to boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to thicken, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Continue to cook cream mixture, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to brown at edges and is thick enough to leave trail that doesn’t immediately fill in when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, 1 to 2 minutes longer (it’s okay if some darker speckles appear in mixture.)  See the link to a video of this process, above.

4. Remove pan from heat and stir in almonds, marmalade, flour, vanilla, zest, and salt until combined.

5. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, making sure that parchment lays flat.

6. Drop 10-12 level teaspoons of dough onto each prepared baking sheet.

7. Using fingers dipped in cold water, spread each portion into a round (1 inch).

8. Bake until uniform deep brown from edge to edge, 12 to 15 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.

9. Transfer baked cookies, still on parchment, to wire rack (or in fridge) to cool. Let sheets cool for 10 minutes, line with fresh parchment, then repeat portioning and baking remaining dough.

PREPARING THE CHOCOLATE FILLING

10. Coarsely chop the chocolate and place in small microwaveable bowl.

11. Microwave chocolate at 50% power, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes.

12. Continue heating for 30 secs at a time at 50% until nearly 2/3 of the chocolate is melted. Then stir until to finish.

13. Transfer melted chocolate to small zipper-lock bag and snip off corner, making hole no larger than 1/16 inch. The video demonstrates how to do this. Make sure you use a flat ziplock bag--a bag that has a fold in the bottom (to allow the bag to hold more) doesn't work so well as it doesn't have a convenient corner to cut off.

CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE FOR THE COOKIES

14. Pipe zigzag of chocolate over each cookie, distributing chocolate evenly among all cookies.

15. Place cookies on cooled sheet and refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

17. Bring to room temperature before serving. Cookies can be stored in airtight container at cool room temperature for several days.

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