Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate Almond Florentines

Almost everyone has New Years resolutions and a very common one is weight loss. I myself have included this as one of my resolutions this year, but I'd like to think that I'm coming at it from a practical standpoint. Let's face it: I like to bake. I know myself and I know that I cannot eliminate baking, and therefore consuming baked goods, completely from my life because it is very intrinsic and important part of who I am. However, in light of this and my acknowledgement of such, I know that I can take certain steps to maintain my goal of weight loss and still enjoy baking.

I'm not going to lie and say that these cookies are good for you...they're cookies therefore they contain sugar therefore they are most definitely not healthy. Still, the amount of sugar contained in these cookies is quite minimal compared to many other cookie recipes and that definitely helps. Also, the key is to remember that everything is good in moderation. For example, rather than bake so often I try to release my creative juices through more cooking and less baking, all the while focusing on healthy recipes. In addition, I look for outlets for my baking such as meetings or gatherings I know I will attend where my baked goods will be welcomed. This allows me to fulfill my desire to bake while not being tempted to consume more than I should.

In all honesty, I came across this recipe for florentines prior to the New Year but I hadn't had a chance to make them, despite buying all of the ingredients. Once the New Year hit, I realized that this recipe fit the bill for my new approach to baking and so I decided to bake them last weekend. I must say they are absolutely delicious! The smoky flavor of the almonds is well complemented by the orange and lemon zests. Different family members preferred the plain vs. chocolate dipped variations. I personally enjoyed the plain florentine because the citrus flavor really stood out however my mother and brother, both chocoholics, liked the chocolate florentines better. I found that by dipping only half of the florentine in chocolate the cookie encompassed the best of both worlds.

If you are like me and wanting to lose some weight but can't entirely give up the baked goods I would highly recommend making these florentines. They were easy to make, required few ingredients, and left me with a slightly less guilty feeling after eating them compared to many other cookies.

Chocolate Almond Florentines
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the chocolate in a large bowl.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and brush very lightly with neutral oil, or spray with cooking spray.
  3. Place heaping tablespoon-sized mounds of the almond mixture onto the baking sheet about 2-3" apart. It helps to dip your hands or the spoon, if using, into cold water so that the almonds don't stick.
  4. Use a fork, dipped in the cold water, to flatten the mounds as much as possible, avoiding gaps in between the almonds.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. The cookies should be golden brown across the top and will start to give off a smoky smell. 
  6. Cool the cookies for a minute on the baking tray before transferring them to a metal rack to finish cooling and become crispy.
  7. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth, mixing in between. 
  8. Once the cookies are crisp, dip half or the entire cookie into the chocolate and return to the wire rack so that the chocolate can harden.

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