Monday, December 22, 2008

Florentine tarts and bars, oh my!

I have always had a hard time remembering the camera... I used to think, after every catering event, that I really should have taken pictures. And yet I never got any better at remembering the camera! Same was true this December... alas. I did think of it last Wednesday, but after the hungry hordes had already gone by, and things were a little picked over... but I a couple of shots of the holidays, with recipes:

The very popular mini caramel apples:

These are florentine tarts, about to go in the oven. They bubbled and baked quite lovely.

Florentine tarts
Traditionally these are cookies dipped in chocolate. I remember the day I first tasted these. 1988. (Holy cow, that's 20 years ago. Calm down, old lady. Breathe.) There was this amazing bakery down on the food level of the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney and I would pass by it each day on my way to work. I hadn't ever heard of Florentines before, but never forgot them from the first bite, and tried various recipes over the years. Caramel and fruit and nuts and chocolate. Wow. They aren't the easiest to make (runny and hot, sometimes unruly. If you've ever had a burn from caramel, you won't soon forget it!), so when I discovered this recipe for Florentine Bars in Sunset magazine a couple of years ago, I was quite happy. It was an easier version of the original, and a way to make large quantities--alwasy a plus with me. But me being me, I needed to find an even easier way to make Florentines, and thought maybe putting the filling in tart shells would accomplish that. It did, more or less... But I'm going to list the recipe for the bars here, and let you fiddle as you will...

Florentine bars
1 c salted butter, room temp
1 3/4 c sugar
1 egg plus one egg yolk
2 1/2 c cake flour
1/2 c plus 6 T unsalted butter
1/3 c honey
1/3 c heavy whipping cream
12 oz. sliced almonds
1/2 c. candied orange peel
1/2 c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter with 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk and beat to combine. Gradually add flour and mix well. Dough will be very soft. Transfer to a floured 16x11 inch parchment paper and roll to size of parchment. Lift and transfer, still on parchment, to large rimmed baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

In medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together unsalted butter, remaing 1 1/4 cup sugar, honey and cream. Cook mixture, stirring frequently, until it registers 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in nuts and fruit.

Using spatula, spread warm topping over crust and bake until topping is carmelized and almonds are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cut while still warm into 2-inch squares. Cool completely.

So good. Just ask my sister-in-law. We've been known to sit around the Florentine platter on many a Christmas morn. That and the caramel corn... but that's another story!


  1. Okay. I came back to see if there was a new post and I glanced at your quotes. The Eleanor R quuote caught the wee corner of my eye and for a moment there (even tought I've already read these) I thought it said, "....and the cookies we make....." Bwaa haa haaa!! Goodness. I think you can tell what's on MY mind these days.

  2. I think that quote reads really well with your addition. I will not be able to read it the same way again!!


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