Here Pierre Hermé combines the tenderness of shortbread with the elegance of florentines, the caramelized almond cookies studded with glittering candied fruit.
Plus: More Christmas Cookies
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and chilled
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup chestnut honey
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
3 cups sliced blanched almonds ( 3/4 pound)
2/3 cup finely diced candied orange rind ( 1/4 pound)
3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter the bottom and sides of an 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet. Line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving about 1 inch overhanging at the short ends. Butter the parchment.
In a food processor, pulse the diced butter with the sugar and the salt 6 times. Add the flour and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Spread the crumbs on the baking sheet and press them into a thin, even layer with floured hands. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, or until firm. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack. Increase the oven temperature to 425°
In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the orange zest over moderate heat just until bubbles appear around the edge, about 5 minutes. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the corn syrup and water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook the syrup over moderately high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until a medium amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the honey, the infused cream and the butter and stir until the butter melts. Cook the caramel topping over moderately high heat until a candy thermometer registers 255°, about 4 minutes. Stir in the almonds and candied orange rind and immediately spread the caramel over the pastry with a wooden spoon.
Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake the pastry for 10 minutes, or until the topping is bubbling. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
Run a knife around the edge of the baking sheet to loosen the pastry and slide the parchment paper onto a work surface. Using a sharp, heavy knife, cut the pastry into 2 1/2-inch strips. Cut the strips into 2 1/2-by-3-inch rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half.
Line 2 large baking sheets with wax paper. Melt two-thirds of the chocolate in a bowl in a microwave oven for about 1 minute. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until completely melted. Dip 1 corner of each cookie into the chocolate and transfer it to the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate until the chocolate is just set, about 5 minutes.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.
The difference between professional chocolate-dipped items and ones from home cooks are what the pros call "feet"—the excess chocolate on the bottom. To prevent chocolate feet from forming in Step 6, gently shake the extra chocolate off the shortbread after dipping it and then scrape the bottom of the cookie against the edge of the bowl to remove the last bit of excess.
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