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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Eggnog florentines

I'm putting my faith in Deb of Smitten Kitchen.  Why?  Well, because I don't like eggnog, but I was very intrigued by these eggnog Florentines she posted recently.    Oh, and then there were the hard-boiled egg yolks in the filling.  Hard-boiled!  Not the typical baking ingredient, if you ask me.  Eggs baked in things, sure.  An egg white meringue as part of a delicious buttercream?  Yup, makes sense.  Even a par-cooked egg yolk or two has been used in a recipe that I've made.  But a hard-boiled egg yolk?  That was new to me!

I wanted to make some festive holiday cookies this month, but didn't get to make as many different varieties as I had planned.  So now, with 10 days left until Christmas, I'm trying to make up for some lost time.  Sure, I've made cookies this month.  And yes, some of them may be considered holiday cookies (like these chewy ginger cookies), while others may not (despite their original name).  And yes, I have made festive treats that weren't cookies (peppermint bark, peppermint rice krispie treats, and peppermint bark brownies).  And even some treats that weren't cookies or festive - in the form of cupcakes. 

So with just one festive holiday cookie made this month, I set out to make a few more in time for the holiday.  First up were these Eggnog Florentines.

*My cookies were quite fragile.  This is - in my opinion no doubt - related to the omitted sugar in the heating phase.  Regardless, a lot of the cookies crumbled when I tried spreading the thick frosting on them.  As a result, I ended up dipping a lot of them in dark chocolate (simply because it's my favorite - any chocolate would work.  And although I skipped sprinkles, those would work, too) or drizzling them with some dark chocolate.  Also quite delicious.  I saved the icing to use on cupcakes at a later date.*

Eggnog Florentines
From Smitten Kitchen


Pecan Florentines:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (The original blogger said she halved this and found it to be just-enough; I love cinnamon, so I did just under a quarter-teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (The original blogger recommend doubling this; I ended up using just over 1/8 tsp)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold is fine
2/3 cup granulated sugar (The original blogger said she would drop this by a tablespoon or two next time...I accidentally left this out only to realized it while the batter was sitting....but I ended up keeping it 2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup, honey, or golden syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Eggnog filling:

 4 large eggs, hard-boiled
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups (300 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I halved this because I’m a spice wimp)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I halved this too)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark rum (can be skipped or reduced)


Make the Florentines:

Heat oven to 350°F.

In a food processor, combine the flour, pecans, cinnamon and salt and pulse until the nuts are very finely chopped, about 1 minute. Turn the nut mixture out into a large bowl.

In a small-medium saucepan set over high heat, combine the butter, sugar, heavy cream and syrup and bring it to a boil.  (When I copied over the recipe, I left out the sugar.  Which it why I was confused when she talks about a caramel mixture and I hadn't made a caramel mixture.)
Boil the mixture for one full minute, then turn off the heat and add the vanilla.
Pour this caramel mixture over the nut mixture and stir to combine them.
Set aside for at least 30 minutes, until it has cooled (I realized I missed the sugar and added it here).
The mixture will firm up and seem worrisome, but you should not be worried.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a 1/2 or 1 teaspoon measure (the original recipe recommends a 1/2 teaspoon measure to scoop the cookies, the original blogger said she used a full teaspoon scoop — are hers became 2 1/2 inches in diameter on average, which felt like a good size to her), scoop the dough into small balls and place them 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake until the cookies are thin and golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes (The first batch I made I took out of the oven after 5 minutes.  They were perfectly golden brown, but very fragile.  The second batch I decided to leave in a little longer and forgot about them -- those were burnt-looking but still very tasty.  The third batch I left in for 7 minutes.  They were darker than a golden brown, but less fragile and were able to stay in 1 piece when the icing was put on them.)
They will not crisp until they are cool, so don’t worry if they’re soft.

Let cool on baking sheets for 5 or so minutes (so they’ll set up a little) before using a thin metal spatula to carefully transfer the cookies to paper towels to blot excess oil for a couple minutes.
After they’ve been blotted, transfer cookies to a cooling rack, though they should be pretty cool by now.
If any butter is left puddled on the parchment, wipe that off too before repeating the process with the remaining cookie dough.

Make the eggnog filling:

Peel the eggs and separate the yolks from the whites.
Save the whites for another use.

Press the egg yolks through a fine-mesh strainer so that they become mashed and powdery.
Place in a large bowl with butter, confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
Beat together until smooth, then raise mixer speed and beat until mixture is thick and frosting-like, about three minutes.
Stir in the rum by hand, if using.  I used 1/2 T of rum and used the hand mixer to add it in.

Spread a dollop of eggnog filling on one cookie, then gently press a second one on top of it.
Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.
Place them in the fridge for 10 minutes before serving, to firm up the filling.

Do ahead: The dough and the icing can be refrigerated in an airtight container or up to 3 days before baking. The baked, unfilled florentines can be stored in a loosely covered container at room temperature for up to two before filling them. Humidity is their enemy, makes them stick together. The original recipe says that once filled, the florentines need to be eaten immediately but our held up crisp in the fridge in a loosely covered container (not airtight) for a couple days.

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