It’s a funny thing how memory works. A scent, a picture, ,a few notes from a song long forgotten can trigger a buried memory – or in my case, a cookie. The other day I was going through some old photos and came across one of my grandparents with my mother and her sister taken at Christmastime when they were little. The photo brought back memories of my grandmothers Christmas baking and of a cookie that she made when I was little. I remember that it had dried fruit in it and chocolate and that it was a bit chewy and crunchy and that it was different from the usual cookies she made. I hadn’t had one or thought about them in years and yet I could clearly remember their scent and their taste and the way my fingers would be just a bit sticky after snitching eating one. After my grandmother stopped baking my mother didn’t make them and, as is true of many things, they were abandoned and forgotten. Inspired, I went through all of my mother’s and grandmothers recipes hoping that the recipe would be there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it. Disappointed, I sat down and wrote out everything I could remember about this cookie and them started going through cookbooks to find something similar as a place to start. I came across a recipe for florentines and knew I had my starting point. After several experimental batches I had it down, I had recreated the cookie and a tradition from my childhood that I can now share with my children.. and with you!
Christmas Florentine Cookies
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
- 2 Tbsp. sultana raisins
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut
- 3 oz. dark chocolate
- Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpats or with parchment.
- If using parchment, lightly spray with cooking spray.
- Cream together the butter ,brown sugar and the salt.
- Add in the egg and beat until thoroughly combined.
- Stir in the dried fruit, nuts, zest, coconut and walnuts.
- Using a tablespoon, drop mounds of the batter onto the baking sheets, spacing them out (the cookies will spread).
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and cool cookies on a rack.
- When cookies are cool, melt chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl.
- Microwave for 1 minute at 30% power – stir. Continue to heat chocolate at 1 minute intervals until chocolate is thoroughly melted.
- Remove from the microwave. Using a butter knife or an offset spatula, coat the bottom of the cookies with a thin layer of dark chocolate.
- Place cookies chocolate side up on a rack to dry. When chocolate has hardened, place cookies in an airtight container.
Yield: 2 dozen cookies