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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chocolate Drizzled Pecan Florentines

I read this recipe for pecan florentines with egg nog frosting on Smitten Kitchen the other day and I just had to try it out.  'Tis the season, afterall.  I give gifts of these sweet and salty nuts (also a recipe from Smitten Kitchen) every year along with some other dessert - brownie, cookie, truffle - it varies every year.  I've already decided to try my hand at alfajores this year, but it's always an option to give more than one type of cookie - and why not when they have egg nog frosting?!  So I got all the ingredients together and tried it out.  The florentines were delicious and I would definitely use this recipe again, but I'm open to trying out a different recipe next time...I've already found a few others to try that have very different ingredient ratios from this particular recipe, so I'm curious to see what making certain changes would do to the texture.  Also, my pre-baked dough looked very different from the pictures on the Smitten Kitchen web site.  Mine looked much greasier.  My finished florentines looked different as well.  They definitely spread out more than hers as they cooked.  I'm not positive why this happened, but it could be that I decreased the sugar as she suggested.

Unfortunately, I was not a big fan of the egg nog frosting,  I wanted so much to like it, and I really did try, but I just didn't like it one bit.  For one thing, it was overly sweet - and that's an understatement.  The florentines are sweet enough, so it was truly overwhelming.  I also didn't like the texture of the was so stiff that it was close to being gritty.  When I tried to spread it on a florentine with a knife, the florentine would break.  When I attempted to use an icing piper, the piper couldn't even push the frosting out.  You'd think I created egg nog colored, edible (barely) cement.  At least it smelled really good.  I might want to try it again, but with half the sugar.  That change could fix both of these problems.

So the frosting may not have been a success, but I decided to try to salvage my efforts for the day by drizzling chocolate onto the florentines.  Totally brilliant.  The chocolate actually made the florentines even better.  So, all in all, this story had a happy ending.

Chocolate Drizzled Pecan Florentines

6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold is fine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup, honey, or golden syrup (I used honey)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup 60% dark chocolate chips

Add the flour, pecans, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse for about 60 seconds until the pecans are finely ground.  Pour this nut mixture into a bowl.  Place the butter, sugar, cream, and honey into a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Boil the mixture for one full minute and then remove from the heat and add the vanilla.  Pour this caramel mixture over the nut mixture and combine.  Set aside for at least 30 minutes to cool.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place teaspoon size balls of the mixture about 3 inches apart.  Bake for 7 to 9 minutes (mine took about 7-1/2.  I found that the back rows were cooking faster than the front rows, so for one batch, I tried to cook them for 8 minutes making sure to rotate the pan halfway through and the cookies burnt to a crisp.)  Remove from the often when a pale golden color and let sit for 5 minutes to cool before removing them to some paper towels so any excess butter can be absorbed.  They will come out of the oven very soft.  They will crisp up as the cool.  Wipe any leftover butter from the parchment paper with a paper towel before placing another batch on it to bake.  Put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring between, until the chocolate is just melted.  Dip a spoon into the chocolate, and while holding a florentine over the bowl, drizzle chocolate onto the florentine.  Place the finished cookie on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper.  Repeat with the remaining cookies.  Allow the chocolate to cool before enjoying with a hot cup of tea.

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