Florentine cookies are irresistible, owing to their combination of caramelized sugar, chocolate, nuts and sweet/tart fruit. Their traditional round shape, however, is often hard to accomplish due to their lacy, freeform nature. In this recipe, the caramelized batter for the classic Florentine is poured and baked over a thin layer of shortbread, all of which is formed in a pan – easier to make and to serve but with all of the classic ingredients and flavors.
Florentine Bars with Candied Orange and Cherries
Makes: Makes 40 squares
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup sliced blanched almonds
- ½ cup dried cherries, chopped
- ½ cup diced candied orange peel
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted, such as Scharffen Berger (62%), Valrhona Manjari (64%) or Callebaut
- For the Shortbread: Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13 x 9-inch pan with non-stick spray, line bottom with parchment cut to fit, then spray parchment.
- Whisk flour and salt together in a small bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.
- Beat butter until creamy with flat paddle on medium-high speed, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat, about 3 minutes at medium-high speed, until very light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually add flour, mixing just until blended, scraping down bowl once or twice. Pat crust into an even layer in prepared pan.
- Bake crust about 20 to 25 minutes or until just beginning to turn very light golden brown along the edges; it should be dry to the touch but only par-baked. Prepare filling while crust is baking.
- For the Filling: Place butter, sugar cream and honey in a medium sized saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter melts. Turn heat to medium-high, bring to a boil and cook to 235°F. Remove from heat and stir in nuts, fruit and flour until well combined.
- Pour filling over partially baked crust and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until filling is bubbling all over and has turned light golden brown all over. Color might be darker around edges. Cool pan completely on rack.
- For the Topping: Place melted chocolate in a parchment cone and make a free-form zigzag pattern all over the bars. Chill to set chocolate; cut into 40 bars (5x8). Refrigerate for up to 1 week in airtight container in single layers separated by parchment paper. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Many fancy cookies need to be stored in single layers separated by parchment or foil. Here is a picture to help you see what we mean. There are already 2 layers underneath that top layer.
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