Florentines

 Ingredients:

  •  4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) almonds, blanched or unblanched, and thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces (1/3 cup) candied orange peel, diced
  • 3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line cookie sheets with a silipat.

You will need a saucepan with about a 3-cup capacity; it should be narrow rather than wide. Place the butter, sugar, milk, and honey in the saucepan over moderate heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil. Place a candy thermometer in the saucepan and cook without stirring until the thermometer registers 232 °F (the “thread” stage).

Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, almonds, orange peel, and flour. Take the saucepan off of the heat, but gently reheat as needed if it begins to harden.

Use a level 1/2 teaspoonful of the mixture for each cookie, placing the mounds 2 to 3 inches apart on the foil-lined sheets. (These spread into large wafers; you will be able to make only about 9 cookies on a regular cookie sheet.)

Bake two sheets at a time for 5 to 6 minutes, reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back as necessary to insure even browning. Bake until the cookies are browned all over; do not underbake. (A few of the nuts might remain lighter, but the cookies must be well done.) If you bake one sheet at a time bake it on the higher rack.

Slide the silipat off of the sheet and once cookies have hardened, gently move them to a cutting board. You will need to wipe down the silipat with a paper towel in between batches. Work quickly, do not let the cookies stand around.

Break up or coarsely chop the chocolate (morsels may be used as is) and place it in the top of a small double boiler over hot water on low heat. Cover until partially melted. Then uncover and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove the top of the double boiler.

With a small, narrow metal spatula spread a thin layer of the chocolate on the bottom of a cookie, leaving an uncovered border about 1/2 inch wide. Cover the cookie with another one, placing it so that both flat sides meet in the middle. Gently press the two cookies together. You will see some of the chocolate oozing out of the lacy holes in the cookies. That is as it should be, but there should not be much.

As you sandwich the cookies place them on a tray in the freezer or refrigerator only until the chocolate is set. Then package airtight in a strong box or tupperware container. Refrigerate or freeze. (If you freeze Florentines the box with the cookies should be transferred to the refrigerator for a few hours before the cookies are unwrapped and served.)

Serve Florentines cold or at room temperature. But don’t take them out of the refrigerator until just before they are served; humidity will make them lose their crispness.

 From O Chef. Makes 24 cookie sandwiches
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