Originally this post was going to be about honey macarons filled with honey buttercream, but once I made them I realized that while the buttercream was incredible, the macaron recipe needed more tweaking, so stay tuned for that later. In the meantime, I had leftover honey buttercream (so good!) and had to figure out what to do with it– I knew I wanted something else with honey, and nuts of some kind– and it had to be crispy to give some good texture contrast. Florentines seemed to fit the bill perfectly, so away I went!
Florentines are basically made of caramel with some nuts and maybe a bit of flour folded in for better texture– you cook the butter and sugar together (in this case, adding honey), add the dry ingredients, then bake teeny-tiny spoonfuls of batter until they spread, bubble, and get all nice and lacy. The finished cookies, when warm, can be molded into shapes that crisp up as they cool. I used walnuts in my cookies, but you could use almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, or even nothing at all– the lacy cookies will still be delicious.
There are only two tough parts, and both have to do with timing: first, you need to watch the cookies in the oven like a hawk, because they can go from toasty gold brown to burned in seconds. And second, if you’re shaping the cookies you need to get them off the sheet at just the right moment and mold them for just long enough that they hold their shape– I’m pretty good, but at six cookies per baking sheet, two sheets at a time it’s tough to mold them all before they start to get too stiff. I’ve found that both of these problems can be addressed by staggering the batches– total bake time is 8-10 minutes per sheet, so you put in one sheet, wait five minutes, then put in the other. While you’re cooling and molding the cookies on the first sheet, the second sheet is still baking, and ought to come out just as you finish the first set.
The crispy rolled cookies are then piped full of a creamy honey filling, which I made by taking my caramelized honey buttercream from my macaron attempt, and whipping in some heavy cream to lighten it up a bit. The contrast between the crunchy outside and light and creamy inside is heavenly, and the flavor divine.
Rolled Florentines (adapted from Taste)
(makes about 32)
1½ cups very finely chopped nuts
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners. Place your racks in the center of the oven.
- In a medium bowl, combine chopped nuts and flour. (Note: smaller pieces of nuts will make your cookies easier to mold. Larger ones will give the cookies more texture)
- In a small saucepan, combine salt, sugar, cream, honey, and butter and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and add vanilla.
- Pour mixture over nuts/flour and stir to form a thick batter. Set aside for about 10 minutes to cool.
- When ready to bake, scoop rounded teaspoonfuls of batter onto your baking sheet, at least 3 inches apart– no more than 6 scoops per sheet! If desired, sprinkle a tiny bit of additional salt onto each scoop.
- Place one sheet on the upper rack of the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then move the first sheet to the lower rack and place a second sheet on the upper rack. Bake for 3 minutes before checking on the first sheet. The cookies should be medium golden-brown, no darker– the color of the standard wildflower honey you get in stores.
- Remove the first sheet from the oven and, if it’s been 5 minutes, move the second sheet to the lower rack to bake for another 3 minutes. Basically you will be baking each sheet for about 8-9 minutes, depending on your oven heat. For my oven, it was best to start each sheet on the upper rack because it was hotter– I found that if I finished the sheet on the upper rack it would burn faster, lacking the insulation of the silicone pan liner between it and the heat source. Your mileage may vary.
- Allow the hot cookies to cool on the sheet for 2-3 minutes. (at this point you may also want to remove the second sheet from the oven to start the cooling process) Run a small metal spatula under the edges of each cookie to test when it’s ready to remove– it should be pliable, but should not tear when you lift it up. Roll around the handle of a wooden spoon and hold gently for a moment to be sure the shape is setting. Repeat with other cookies, and be sure to work quickly!
- Let the cookies cool on the wooden spoons for about a minute before sliding off onto a plate to cool completely. It won’t take long.
- Repeat until your batter is gone. You can spoon your batter onto warm baking sheets– they’ll have been cooling for about five minutes anyway once you’ve gotten the cookies off of them. I ended up with 32 cookies, though I burned six and had to throw them out… be careful!
Whipped Honey Cream Filling (adapted from A Cookie Named Desire)
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream, room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
- In a small saucepan, heat your honey on medium until it darkens and smells nutty, and turn off the heat. How dark you go depends on how brave you are– I didn’t take mine quite far enough, I don’t think, but it was still delicious. Pour in your heavy cream and whisk until the bubbling subsides.
- In the meantime, beat butter, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla together in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. It will be pretty stiff– not like a normal buttercream yet– but that’ll change later.
- Pour in about half of your honey-cream mixture and continue beating. The heat will loosen up the buttercream significantly. Taste your buttercream and add more of the honey/cream until you like the flavor– I added a bit more salt at this step as well, though that’s just my personal taste.
- Once you’ve got the flavor right, beat on high for 1-2 minutes, then chill for about 5 minutes.
- Once the buttercream is cool but not cold, switch to the whisk attachment on your stand mixer. Add 1/4 cup of your heavy cream to the buttercream and whip until incorporated. Add the rest of the cream and repeat. Then whip on high until it fluffs up into a light, creamy filling.
- Using a piping bag, fill your cookie rolls from both ends with filling. Serve immediately!