Florentine cookies

Yield: 36 servings

Measure Ingredient
¾ cup Honey
¾ cup Sugar
2 tablespoons Unsalted butter
1 cup Almonds; finely chopped
1 cup Toasted hazelnuts; chopped
1 cup Dried sour cherries; chopped
½ cup Dried apricots; chopped
1 cup Candied orange peel; chopped
½ cup All-purpose flour
1 pinch Ground cloves
¼ teaspoon Freshly grated nutmeg
1 pinch White pepper
\N \N Vegetable shortening; melted and cooled
1 pounds Bittersweet chocolate; such as Callebaut
\N \N OR Valrhona; chopped,
\N \N Plus extra for cooling the chocolate

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine honey, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the temperature reaches 238 degrees, the soft-ball stage, on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine nuts, dried fruit, flour, and spices. 2. Pour candy mixture over contents in large bowl stirring with a wooden spoon to combine. When cool enough to handle, form into 1-inch balls with hands coated with vegetable shortening to prevent sticking.

Place on a nonstick baking mat and flatten into balls with the palm of your hand. Bake until bubbled on top, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. 3. In a medium saucepan, melt ⅔-pound chocolate, stirring constantly until melted and the temperature is between 110 and 120 degrees on an instant-read or chocolate thermometer. Continue stirring; add reserved chocolate to bring the temperature down to 85 to 90 degrees. An additional chunk of chocolate can be added and removed if necessary to bring the temperature down. At this point, the chocolate will appear smooth and shiny. Working quickly, using a small offset spatula, spread a thick layer of chocolate on the back of each cooled cookie. Using a decorating comb, create a decorative pattern.

These delicious cookies combine nuts, dried fruits, and a rich coating of tempered chocolate, and are a delectable holiday treat. Claudia roasts her hazelnuts in a 350-degree oven just until she begins to smell a toasty aroma. She then rubs the skins off with a tea towel. Use the best-quality chocolate you can find -- we like Valrhona. Tips for Tempering Chocolate Work in a room with low humidity, no warmer than 75 degrees. Use couverture chocolate, which contains at least 32% cocoa butter. As it melts, dark chocolate should not exceed 120 degrees, milk and white chocolates should stay below 110 degrees, or it may lose depth of flavor and burn. Leftovers can be remelted several times, but add a few ounces of never-melted chocolate to prevent bloom, a whitish surface cast. Water and condensation cause tempering chocolate to "seize," or become unmalleable. Bittersweet chocolate tempers when it cools to between 85 and 90 degrees; milk and white chocolates temper between 82 and 83 degrees.

Recipe by: Martha Stewart

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