Small, chocolate-coated cookies packed with an abundance nuts – the ideal accompaniment to a festive latte.
It’s officially December, and you know what that means: ‘tis the season for Christmas cookies, eggnog, peppermint mochas and gingerbread galore!
For me, the best part about Christmas is the lead-up to the day. Those sweet (literally) few weeks of excessive holiday baking, drinking sugary (and perhaps boozy) drinks, decorating your house/apartment with Christmas lights, and taking a look at those houses that go overboard. The day itself is only the cherry on top of the festive sundae.
Fun Fact: The world’s largest gingerbread house was 60 feet (18.3m) long, 42 feet (12.8m) wide and 10.1 feet (3.7m) tall at its highest point.
If you’re looking for a little treat to have with your holiday lattes, then I have an idea for you: florentines. These cookies (well, I’m going to call them cookies – whether they are or not is up for debate) are slightly chewy, nutty morsels filled with almonds, dried cranberries and pistachios. They’re naturally gluten-free, are easily dairy-free, and aren’t too sweet.
But the best part of these florentines is the thick layer of dark chocolate on the bottom (obviously). Technically, you could make that a thin layer of chocolate, but where’s the fun in that?
If you’re not a fan of dark chocolate (what!?), then feel free to use milk or white chocolate instead. But, whatever you do, don’t omit the chocolate entirely – as well as being delicious, the chocolate helps hold the florentines together).
As mentioned, I used dried cranberries and pistachios in these cookies to add a little red and green pizazz. In retrospect, I probably should’ve bought some bright red Craisins rather than using the bag of overly dark cranberries that I had stashed in the pantry. But, oh well, you live and learn.
If you don’t like or have dried cranberries, you could use virtually any other dried fruit. Dried cherries and blueberries would be particularly nice. You could also use candied (glacé) cherries, although I find those a bit too sweet.
And if you’re not a dried fruit fan at all, feel free to replace the cranberries with some more chopped nuts.
Fun Fact: Apparently ‘Jingle Bells’ was originally a Thanksgiving song, and was the first song broadcast from space.
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tablespoons (30mL) honey
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon (10g) confectioners’ (icing) sugar
- 1 cup (100g) sliced almonds
- ½ cup (70g) chopped pistachios
- ¼ cup (35g) dried cranberries
- 4 ounces (115g) chopped dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a large baking sheet with non-stick paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, honey, orange zest, vanilla extract and salt. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar, and whisk until the sugar has been fully incorporated.
- Add the sliced almonds, chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. Mix until well combined.
- Place a small, circular cookie cutter (about 2 inches, or 5cm, in diameter) on the prepared baking tray. Spoon one heaping tablespoon of mixture into the cookie cutter, and use a spoon to press the mixture into the cutter. Carefully remove the cookie cutter. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
- Let the florentines sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring the entire sheet of non-stick paper to a cooking rack. Allow the florentines to cool completely on the paper.
- Carefully remove the florentines from the paper and place them upside down on a plate. Don’t worry if a florentine falls apart, just try to piece it back together on the plate (the chocolate will hold it together).
- Place the chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on a low wattage for short intervals of 20 – 30 seconds, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has melted.
- Use a butter knife to spread a thick layer of melted chocolate onto each florentine. Let the florentines sit until the chocolate has completely set. Store in an airtight container.