I have recently added to my skill set the ability to make and mold Florentines (almond lace cookies). On our most recent adventure, Chef Husband had the idea to take Florentines, mold them into the shape of a taco shell, fill them with chocolate mousse (using a pastry bag with a small tip) and then garnish them with a raspberry “salsa”. The salsa was simply comprised of broken up fresh raspberries, tossed with a bit of chopped fresh mint and a splash of Grand Marnier. You gotta love it when his creative juices have kicked into high gear and something new is created!
Florentines are actually quite easy to make; however, you have to move in a timely fashion. They need to be pulled from the oven at the right time, being lightly browned all the way across each cookie. Then they must be allowed to cool on the pan to where they are just firm enough to handle, yet still pliable for bending and molding.
Here are a few tricks I learned along the way.
Usually we would use a level 1/2 oz. scoop of the batter for larger Florentines; however, in this application, we were going for a smaller size, and I used a paring knife to divide each scoop of measured batter in half before rolling.
The rolled mounds can be pressed out with the heel of your hand, but tools lend to consistency. I used the bottom of a Pyrex measuring cup, with a piece of parchment in between, to press them. The glass allowed me to see through and observe if I was applying even pressure.
If they have melted together, they can be separated with the back edge of paring knife or a small offset spatula, while they are still hot. Once they have set for just a bit, and are ready to lift from the pan, a small offset spatula or palette knife is a very valuable tool to have.
To shape the tacos, I used a simple wood dowel. My first attempts at shaping them were by hanging them over the dowel, but they kept slipping off. I then moved onto a procedure of laying just a few at a time, top side down, on a paper towel and setting the dowel across them. Then I used the paper towel to pull the rounds up and over the dowel, shaping them and holding them until they were set.
If the Florentines have stiffened to where they can no longer be shaped, they can be put back into the oven for just about a minute and they will be pliable again. However, this can usually only be done once because they will overcook.
One last tip… they are HOT when taking them off the pan and shaping. Wearing nitrile gloves will help reduce the heat transfer to your fingers. Chef Husband says rubbing a bit of butter on your fingers also will provide a protective coating, but I haven’t been brave enough to try that…yet. 😉
FLORENTINES (Almond Lace Cookies)
11 wt. oz. Butter, softened
3 wt. oz. Light Corn Syrup
11 wt. oz. Powdered Sugar
6 wt. oz. All Purpose Flour
2 cups Almonds, coarse chop
Using an ounce scale, measure all of the ingredients. Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix together with the butter and corn syrup. Seal in an airtight container and allow mixture to chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour, up to a day ahead. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a sheet pan with a Silpat. Pull chilled batter from the fridge and portion with a 1/2 oz disher scoop. Very quickly and lightly roll into a ball, taking care to not warm them. Gently press them out into circles. For pressing the circles, place a piece of parchment atop one ball at a time and press out using the bottom of a flat bottomed glass or can. Leave a couple of inches in between each circle as they will spread. Bake in the oven for 4 minutes, turn the pan and bake for approximately 3 more minutes. Pull when they have just turned a light golden brown across the entire cookie. Allow to remain on pan, just until set, and remove to shape and cool.
Note, this is a high volume recipe and can be cut in half. Also, for smaller Florentines, you may cut each scoop of mixture in half before rolling and pressing.
Until next time…
Mrs. Chef (Christa)
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