Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Caramel, chocolate key to Florentine taste

  • Print

Arlene Elendiuk wrote in requesting a recipe for Florentines like they make at the Piazza di Nardi.

Florentines mean different things to different people. For some it's a caramelly confection; for others, a delicate cookie. Thanks to Mildred Giesbrecht and Edna Mroz, who offered their favourite recipes for the cookie version, and to Lesley Hammerback, who sent in a Craig Claiborne recipe that was published many years ago in the Winnipeg Tribune. The Piazza di Nardi version is baked in a bar with a shortbread layer, so I hunted down a recipe for that as well.

To celebrate our very early spring, why not send in recipes that represent spring for your family? If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.


Florentine cookies

Enlarge Image

Florentine cookies

Florentine cookies

(adapted from Craig Claiborne)

57 g (1/4 cup) butter

175 ml (3/4 cup) white sugar

175 ml (3/4 cup) whipping cream

125 ml (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour

175 g (1 3/4 cup) flaked almonds

125ml (1/2 cup) candied fruit peel or candied ginger or dried fruit, finely chopped

84 g (3 oz or 3 squares) semi-sweet or bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate


Preheat oven to 175C (350F). Butter a cookie sheet or line with buttered parchment paper. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar and cream. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and then bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in flour, almonds and candied peel, candied ginger or dried fruit. (Batter will be thin.) Drop about 15 ml (1 tbsp) of batter about 7.5 cm (3 in) apart onto prepared sheet, and flatten with a wet fork. Bake about 10-12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet until you can move the cookies without tearing, but don't leave them too long or they can stick to the pan. Continue cooling on a rack. Melt chocolate, in a double boiler or in the microwave on low heat, and spread on bottom of cooled cookies. Place upside-down on wax paper to let chocolate set. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.


Tester's notes: These cookies are a bit fiddly and fussy, but as Edna Mroz points out, they are really worth the time, with their delicate texture and blend of caramel and chocolate tastes. The rich cookies should be watched when baking as they can scorch easily. Lesley Hammerback finds the baking time is usually less than 10 minutes. If you want to ensure round, even-looking cookies, remove them from the oven at midway point in baking and neaten out the edges using a round cookie cutter or just pushing a bit with a spatula. You can really use anything you like for the fruit addition; I used dried cranberries.


Florentine bars

Enlarge Image

Florentine bars

Florentine bars

(adapted from Unforgettable Desserts by Dede Wilson)


560 ml (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour

1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt

228g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces

125 ml (1/2 cup) white sugar

2 ml (1/2 tsp) vanilla


85 g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces

150 ml (2/3 cup) white sugar

75 ml (1/3 cup) whipping cream

45 ml (3 tbsp) honey

100 g (1 cup) blanched slivered almonds

125 ml (1/2 cup) dried cherries, chopped

125 ml (1/2 cup) diced candied orange peel

60 ml (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour

56 g (2 oz or 2 squares) bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, melted


Preheat oven to 175C (350F). Butter a 33x22cm (13x9 in) pan, line with parchment paper, and then butter the paper. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just blended. Pat into an even layer in prepared pan. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes, or until just dry to the touch and light golden brown at the edges. Meanwhile, prepare filling by putting butter, sugar, cream and honey in a heavy medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil and cook, without stirring but swirling pan occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 113C (235F). The mixture will be thickened, the surface will be covered with large bubbles and the colour will be light amber. Remove from heat and stir in nuts, fruit and flour until well combined. Pour the filling over the partially baked crust and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until caramel is bubbling and golden brown all over. Cool completely in the pan set on a rack. Once cool, drizzle with melted chocolate, let the chocolate set, and cut into small bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week but bring to room temperature to serve.


Tester's notes: This bar version is a little easier than the cookies, and it still has those wonderful flavours. In the Piazza di Nardi version the shortbread layer is a little thinner, making for a nicer balance with the caramel, so I might reduce the shortbread layer a bit and cut down the baking times to compensate. Again, you can improvise a bit with the dried fruit and peel.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 21, 2012 D5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Key of Bart - Four Little Games

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


What do you think of the government's announcement that there will be no balanced provincial budget until 2018?

View Results

Ads by Google