Last week was a good week. Why, you may ask? Amazon delivered Gesine Bullock-Prado’s new book, Sugar Baby, over a week before its release date! You may think I’m a nerd for considering this the highlight of my week, but the book is absolutely fantastic and I strongly advise you to run out and buy it.
Sugar Baby is about learning to cook with sugar, in all its various stages. There are a ton of recipes in the book for things like rock candy, caramel, toffee, Parisian macarons, brittle, and fudge. There is also a section of recipes at the end about putting it all together, which includes some amazing recipes for cakes, cookies, and the like (including one for a particularly famous ginger cookie, which I can’t wait to try).
Cooking with sugar can be a little scarier than baking a cookie or a cake; it involves precise levels of heat, measured with a candy thermometer. So in deciding which recipe to try first, I thought it best to ease into the process and choose a recipe that didn’t look particularly difficult or time consuming. I decided on Florentiners à la Mama, Gesine’s take on the classic Italian Florentine.
Florentines are a candy-like cookie made of slivered almonds that bake up sweet, flat, and crunchy. The batter came together very quickly, and I tried a few different ways shaping the Florentines. The easiest way is to just take a teaspoon or two of the batter and just plop it onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. The result is an extra-thin, crispy cookie that is mostly round but sort of free-form in shape. I also made a few cookies using heart-shaped molds, purchased from my local baking supply store and readily available online.
Both turned out well, and both tasted delicious drizzled with chocolate. As you can see from the pictures, the heart-shaped Florentines are just so darn pretty, but I ultimately preferred the taste of the free-form ones. When making the hearts, I found I put more batter in the molds, making it easier to push the batter all around inside of the molds to ensure the heart-shaped cookie did not have bits of its shape missing. The result was a thicker Florentine; it certainly tasted great, but the free-form Florentines were just so thin and lacy. As you can see below, the texture was delicate and divine.
Florentiners à la Mama
To see the recipe and more step-by-step pictures, check out the King Arthur Flour blog.
Special equipment: candy thermometer (I use this one)