These thin, crispy cookies with almonds and dried fruit laced together with a delicate caramel are known as Florentine cookies. The bottoms have a thin layer of chocolate for a festive feel. These cookies are technically British biscuits, as my recipe is based off the lovely Mary Berry's recipe. We're keeping her metric measurements, but we're using decidedly American ingredients.
The happiest 8 weeks of my entire year is when The Great British Baking Show releases a new season. My daughter even loves to watch it with me, which I allow because competition shows across the pond are much friendlier. The personality gamut of the contestants is celebrated, flaws and flubs are ignored, and everyone expresses their genuine love of butter and sugar in a contagious manner.
I love this show because I learn so much about baking and new desserts. Especially, I love the way someone who finishes a challenge early might help a fellow contestant. I've seen American cooking shows with quite opposite behavior. So, I put the caption on (because I watch at night after my kids are in bed and Scottish accents can be hard to understand on low volume), and I fell in love with everything about the show. I now own many, many cookbooks by the judges and former contestants.
Florentine biscuits were one of the technical challenges in season 11 in 2020, which is the first thing the contestants must bake. Not only are Florentine cookies beautiful, but the sight of the crisp, caramel, lacy cookies with bits of candied fruit and almonds made me crave them.
How to Make Florentine Cookies
These Florentine biscuits start on the stove, and then finish in the oven. After the butter, brown sugar, and light corn syrup melt together on the stove (but never boil), everything else goes in the pan for a good stir. Be sure to space the cookies very far apart on the cookie sheet, as these cookies spread so much in the oven! After baking, we will brush the bottoms with chocolate.
- Butter. I'm using unsalted today.
- Light Brown Sugar. British Florentine biscuits call for demerara sugar, but we're using much more common light brown sugar. I don't recommend dark brown sugar, as it can be harder to tell when the cookies are done baking.
- Light Corn Syrup. Again, where the British version of this recipe uses golden syrup, we're using light corn syrup. You can also use honey or maple syrup, like we do in our Pecan Pie Bars. Whenever we say light, we mean clear, not low calorie. I promise to never mention calories on a baking blog.
- All-Purpose Flour.
- Candied Cherries. Candied cherries can be red or naturally dark maroon. Sometimes they're called glacéd cherries, which is the same thing as candied. Candied cherries are soft and juicy (not dry or chewy), because they are candied in a sugar syrup mixture.
- Candied Orange Peel. You can buy candied orange peel already chopped, or buy candied orange slices and chop them yourself. This Florentine cookies recipe is by weight, so either works.
- Sliced Almonds. Sliced almonds are flat and very thin; not the same as slivered almonds, which are long, chunky pieces of almonds. Sliced almonds can also be called flaked almonds. It doesn't matter if the skins are on or off.
- Semisweet Chocolate. This is for melting and brushing on the undersides. If you don't like chocolate, you can skip this.
- Coconut Oil. Simply for helping the chocolate melt.
Gather all of the ingredients. Ensure the candied fruit is chopped and everything is ready to go, as this recipe comes together quickly. And yes, you absolutely need a scale to make this recipe. No exceptions, because this cookie is basically more of a candy, and candy requires precision.
Dice the butter into chunks, and combine it with the brown sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan.
Melt this mixture together over LOW HEAT, and do not let it boil. Do NOT let it boil. Once it's fully melted and homogenous, remove it from the heat.
Next, add the flour, sliced almonds, diced cherries and orange peel.
Stir the Florentine cookies batter together until it's homogenous.
Use a tablespoon to scoop out dough (make heaping tablespoon measures), and space them very far apart on a large baking sheet. Only fit 6 scoops per pan. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. It's time to remove them from the oven when the cookies are bubbling, and the edges are starting to turn darker than the centers of the cookies.
When the cookies come out of the oven, they are super soft and cannot be removed from the pan. However, uou can take a large circle cookie cutter and go around the edges to make the cookies have cleaner edges. Alternatively, you can use the edge of a knife to push the edges of the cookies into a rounder shape.
Next, it's time to make the chocolate coating for the bottom of each of the Florentine cookies. Combine the chocolate and coconut oil in a small bowl.
Melt the chocolate and coconut oil on 50% power in the microwave in 30 seconds pulses, or use a double boiler. Use a silicone pastry brush to brush the chocolate on the underside of the cookies. Let the chocolate harden and then serve.
Variations on Florentine Cookies
- You can use honey in place of the light corn syrup, if you prefer.
- You may use any type of candied fruit, as long as you stick to the weight in the recipe card, and chop it finely.
- I love to slip in a little candied diced ginger.
These Florentine cookies make great hostess gifts, or are beautiful in a tin for an edible gift.
Other edible gifts:
- 50 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 50 grams (¼ cup) light brown sugar
- 50 grams (2 tablespoons) light corn syrup
- 50 grams all-purpose flour
- 4 candied cherries, finely chopped
- 50 grams (2 ounces) finely chopped candied orange peel
- 50 grams (2 ounces) sliced almonds
- 5 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F, and have 2 silicone liners on baking sheets ready. You can also use parchment paper. Gather and pre-chop all ingredients.
- Add the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a small saucepan.
- Turn the heat to low, and stir frequently just until the butter melts. Do not let it bubble or boil, and do not worry if the sugar doesn’t dissolve fully—we just need to melt the butter in this step.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, and then add the flour, chopped candied fruit and nuts. Stir to combine.
- Once the mixture is very well-mixed, scoop out heaping teaspoons (or a flat level tablespoon) onto the sheet pan, spacing the cookies fairly wide apart. I only bake 6 cookies on a baking sheet at a time. Press the cookies flat so they bake evenly.
- Slide the cookies into the oven, and bake for 8-10 minutes, until they’re golden brown and bubbling. Pull the cookies out of the oven when they’re golden brown and bubbling, EVEN IF THEY APPEAR SOFT AND MELTY.
- Let the cookies cool on the pan until they firm up enough to be moved with a spatula to a cooling rack. While the cookies are still warm and pliable, you can use a spatula to push the edges gently to make the cookie perfectly round around the edges.
Repeat with all remaining cookie batter.
- Once the cookies are completely cool, it’s time to brush the bottoms with chocolate: combine the chocolate and coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl.
- Melt the chocolate and coconut oil on 50% power in the microwave in 30 seconds pulses, or use a double boiler. Use a silicone pastry brush to brush the chocolate on the underside of the cookies. Let the chocolate harden and then serve.
Light Brown Sugar: Use light brown sugar, not dark brown sugar, as it can be harder to tell when the cookies are done baking.
Light Corn Syrup: Light corn syrup means clear. You can use honey instead.
Candied Cherries: Candied cherries can be red or naturally dark maroon like in the photos. Sometimes they're called glacéd cherries, which is the same thing as candied. Candied cherries are candied in a sugar syrup mixture until soft and juicy.
Candied Orange Peel: This can come already chopped around the holidays, or you can find whole candied orange slices and chop them yourself.
Sliced Almonds: Sliced almonds are not the same as slivered almonds, which are long, chunky pieces of almonds. Sliced almonds are flat and thin; they can also be called 'flaked almonds'. Skins on or off--either is fine.
Semisweet Chocolate: This is for the bottom of the cookies. If you don't like chocolate, you omit.
Coconut Oil: To help melt the chocolate; you can use vegetable oil, if you prefer.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 714Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 376mgCarbohydrates: 87gFiber: 1gSugar: 80gProtein: 2g