Recipe Reveal: Chocolate Almond Lace Cookies
Have you ever bought cookies that looked fabulous but were disappointing because they tasted terrible? Time to just say no to pitiful overpriced pastries!
Bakeries and grocery stores sell what they call “Chocolate Almond Lace Cookies” (aka Florentines) in my neck of the woods in Connecticut. They look great! Two crispy lace cookies filled with chocolate, what’s not to love?
Unfortunately, the cookies are usually soft and flavorless and come pre-packaged in bulk from some anonymous source. Oh the pain, Will Robinson, the pain, something that looks so good but is soooo bad.
But good news, you can make these cookies yourself! Crunchy almond disks with real chocolate in the middle. Great for a special occasion or just for fun!
I adapted this recipe years ago from Bon Appetit magazine. They’re my signature Christmas Cookie and I’ve even used them to decorate an Almond Lace Cream Cake I created specially in honor of Julia Child’s 100th birthday. The cake took first prize in a contest at the Nutmeg Festival in Ridgefield, Conn. But that will be another Recipe Reveal for another day.
A quick sidebar: Years ago I worked in Boston for Dr. Beryl Benacerraf and her husband Dr. Peter Libby, wonderful doctors and good, caring people. Beryl and Peter LOVED these cookies, as did Beryl’s father Baruj Benacerraf, a Nobel-prize winning doctor (he died in 2011). Baruj asked if I would share the recipe with his cook, so I did, gladly.
Well, the next day, I arrived at work and found a lot of unhappy faces. I was asked why I had given the cook the WRONG recipe, was I holding back on the right one? I was sternly admonished — the recipe did NOT work, the cookies were a mess on the pan and couldn’t be removed with a spatula. I thought I was going to be fired, so, I went into the kitchen and showed the cook step-by-step how to make them. The problem was not with the recipe, but with the technique. So I offered some tips.
The tricks? Only use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of batter for each cookie. Don’t put the batter on a warm baking sheet, the batter will melt and you’ll get irregular shapes. DONT use a spatula to remove them. Let them cool a few seconds when they’re done and then put your fingers under the parchment and they’ll pop right off. Success! Job saved. Everyone happy.
Chocolate Almond Lace Cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds (you can buy blanched almonds whole or in slivers. Process them in a food processor till they resemble coarse meal
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon pure almond extract (not imitation)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a frying pan or skillet over medium low heat, melt butter. Add sugar, flour and salt and stir until sugar dissolves (about 3 minutes). Mix in almonds and milk and stir lightly. Remove from heat and blend in extract. Let cool slightly.
3. This is the tricky part — a tiny drop of the cookie batter spreads a great deal, so drop by small, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoonful dots on your baking sheet, separated several inches apart. You won’t make more than six at a time on a large cookie sheet.
4. Bake for about 5-7 minutes or until lightly golden brown. When done remove from oven, take the parchment sheet of cookies off the baking sheet and gently rest on cool counter so the cookies stop baking. When cooled a minute, cookies will peel off the paper. If they resist, put your fingers under the parchment and gently pop them off from behind.
5. Cool cookies on a cooling rack. Melt the chocolate.
6. Match one cookie to another most resembling it in size and shape. Using a flat spreader or spoon (a knife does not work as well it tends to break the cookie) put some melted chocolate on the smooth side of one cookie, sandwich it with the flat side of another cookie. Place back on cooling rack until chocolate cools. Store covered at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.