These almond florentines are a thin, crispy treat that's part cookie, part candy, and so unique! Made of finely chopped almonds suspended in a toffee base, they bake into cookies with a rich caramel flavor and delicate, lace-like structure (hence the alternate name "lace cookie"). Serve them unadorned, or enhance them with a layer of silky dark chocolate for even more flavor!
If your go-to dessert is a chewy chocolate chip cookie, you might be inclined to overlook a cookie as thin and crunchy as an almond florentine - but you'd be missing out! While nothing like a traditional cookie, these florentines rightfully deserve a spot at the (dessert) table. They have a complex flavor thanks to the sweet, nutty combination of almonds, butter, and sugar (not all that unlike a French financier, in fact). And the addition of dark chocolate - while optional - makes them impossible to resist!
What is an almond florentine?
Almond florentine cookies (or biscuits, if you will) are thin, delicate, crispy confections unlike most common American cookies. They're typically made from a mixture of nuts, butter and sugar, and often combined with candied fruit and/or chocolate. Oranges are frequently added to the mix - either in the form of orange zest or candied orange peel - but this fruit-free variation leans more towards the likes of a dark chocolate florentine recipe.
Once baked, the cookies take on a dainty structure with fine holes, similar to lace. For that reason, almond florentines are also commonly referred to as almond lace cookies. Their flavor resembles toffee, with a hint of almond extract and bittersweet notes of dark chocolate.
As to their origins: while many people assume that florentines come from (and are named after) Florence, Italy, others speculate that they're much more likely to be French. And although I certainly can't claim to have a definitive answer on the topic, I will say that the only ones I've ever seen (aside from the packaged variety) came from À la Mère de Famille in Paris.
What are florentines made of?
Along with the aforementioned nuts, butter, and sugar, you'll need a few other ingredients for this almond florentine cookie recipe. These include cream, corn syrup, flour, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Adding dark chocolate is optional, but I highly recommend it!
Some helpful ingredient notes:
- Although I typically make these lace cookies with unsalted butter, I think you could easily use salted butter if that's your preference.
- You can use light or dark corn syrup. If golden syrup is more accessible where you live, feel free to use that instead.
- Regular (natural) cocoa powder is my go-to for this recipe, since we're really not looking for the intensely chocolatey flavor of Dutch process cocoa. That said, feel free to use what you have on hand.
- Turn this into a gluten-free forentine recipe by using gluten-free all-purpose flour instead of regular flour. It's a simple 1:1 swap!
- Much like Laceys (which may be the most common florentine-like cookie here in the US), I like to sandwich these with a layer of dark chocolate and finish them off with a chocolate drizzle. Although I love the depth of flavor it adds, you can also use semisweet chocolate if you prefer its slightly more mellow flavor.
- Optionally, sprinkle these chocolate almond florentines with a bit of fleur de sel or sea salt for a salty-sweet finish.
How are almond florentines made?
Though they make look intricate, Florentine lace cookies are relatively easy to make. Here's the high-level overview:
The process starts by bringing a simple butter and sugar syrup to a boil. You'll then add a mixture containing very finely chopped nuts to create a dough that spreads into a thin cookie as it bakes.
The bits of almond are held together by the sweet toffee-like laces of cooked sugar, resulting in a crisp, sweet and nutty dessert that's half candy, half cookie. It's a bit like a very thin, delicate almond brittle, but with a little less sweetness and a little more chew.
To make them:
Step one - Boil the sugar mixture: Combine chopped butter, granulated sugar, heavy cream, and corn syrup in a small-medium saucepan. Place on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally as the butter and sugar melt. Allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil (you should see the entire surface bubbling) before removing from heat.
Step two - Process the dry ingredients: In a food processor fitted with the chopping blade attachment, process sliced almonds until they have a fine consistency similar to gravel. Add flour, cocoa powder, and salt, and pulse them into the mixture just until evenly incorporated. Be wary of over-processing; you don't want to turn the almonds into almond meal!
Step three - Combine: Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir vanilla and almond extract into the sugar mixture. Add the almond mixture and continue stirring everything together until evenly combined. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes, giving the dry ingredients enough time to absorb the liquids so that the mixture is thick enough to scoop, and not overly sticky.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Step four - Shape the dough: Lay out a separate piece of parchment paper to act as a holding spot for your cookie dough. Scoop the dough by the tablespoon and roll each portion between your palms to form a small ball. Set the cookie dough balls aside on the spare parchment until ready to bake.
Step five - Bake and cut: Place 6 balls of cookie dough on each of the prepared cookie sheets, leaving at least a few inches of space between each cookie and the sides of the pan. Bake one cookie sheet at a time on the middle rack for 11-12 minutes, rotating the sheet 180ºF at the halfway mark. The cookies should be golden when they're done.
Allow the cookies to cool for just a few minutes before using a (approx. 3") round cookie cutter to cut them into perfect circles. I've found that it's helpful to use a small knife to cut around the cookie cutter. Let them cool a bit longer before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Step six - Repeat: Continue baking and cutting the remaining lace cookies in the same manner, alternating between cookie sheets to give each one time to cool completely between batches. Let all of the cookies cool before stacking, storing, or adding chocolate.
Step seven - Add chocolate: Melt (and ideally temper) chocolate using your preferred method. Use an icing spatula to spread a thin layer of chocolate over the bottom of half of the florentines. Top each with another cookie and place on a wire rack.
Storage and shelf life:
Once baked and cooled, almond florentine cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag, at room temperature or in the refrigerator. If they've been sandwiched with chocolate, I've found that they stay a bit crispier when refrigerated.
Florentines will stay fresh for 1-2 weeks, although they may get slightly chewier over time.
Tips for the best almond florentine cookies
- Although it's tempting, don't try to bake more than 6 cookies at a time. They'll spread into each other and you'll just be left with one giant mess of a cookie.
- Bake on the middle oven rack only. This produces the most even heat, allowing the florentine cookies to bake up perfectly crisp and golden throughout, and avoiding the issue of burnt edges.
- Let your cookie sheets cool between batches, and use a fresh sheet of parchment paper for every batch. If needed, run your cookie sheet under cold water to quickly cool it down.
- Cut your cookies into rounds just a few minutes after you take them out of the oven. If you wait too long, they'll get crunchy and be more likely to break apart unevenly.
- Temper your chocolate before garnishing your florentines - tempered chocolate will set quickly and stay shiny, maintaining a crispier and prettier cookie.
More chocolatey cookie recipes
Whether you're planning a Christmas cookie box - something these almond florentines would be perfect for - or just in a cookie-baking mood, here are a few other recipes to add to your list!
Almond Florentines (Lace Cookies)
These crisp, lacy almond florentines are sandwiched and drizzled with dark chocolate to amplify their naturally rich, nutty-sweet flavor. Although they look intricate, these florentine cookies are easier to make than you might think!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Total Time: 42 minutes
- Yield: 12 cookie sandwiches 1x
- Category: cookies
- Method: baking
- 2 ½ ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 5 ¼ ounces (¾ cups) granulated sugar
- 1 ounce (⅛ cup) heavy cream
- 1 ½ ounces (⅛ cup) corn syrup
- 6 ⅛ ounces (1 ¾ cups) sliced almonds
- ¾ ounce (3 tablespoons) all-purpose flour (regular or gluten-free)
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 7 ½ ounces bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, finely chopped
- fleur de sel or sea salt for sprinkling, optional
- Boil the sugar mixture: Combine butter, sugar, cream, and corn syrup in a small-medium saucepan over medium heat. Allow butter to melt and sugar to dissolve, stirring occasionally. Bring to a rolling boil before removing from heat.
- Process dry ingredients: In a food processor fitted with the chopping blade attachment, process almonds until they've reached the consistency of fine gravel. Add flour, cocoa powder, and salt, and pulse in just until evenly combined.
- Combine: Add vanilla and almond extracts to the sugar mixture, stirring in to combine, and then mix in the dry ingredients until everything is evenly incorporated. Cool until thick enough to scoop and handle (this should only take a few minutes). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF with rack in the middle position. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Shape dough: Lay out a third sheet of parchment paper to hold your cookie dough. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll into small balls. Set aside on reserved parchment until ready to bake.
- Bake and cut: Place 6 balls of cookie dough on each of the prepared cookie sheets, leaving at least a few inches of space between each cookie and the sides of the pan. Bake one tray at a time on middle rack of oven for 11-12 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cookies should be golden when done. Cool cookies for just a few minutes before cutting into circles with a 3" round cookie cutter, using a small knife to help cut around the cookie cutter if needed. Cool a few minutes longer before transferring to a wire rack.
- Repeat: Continue baking cookies 6 at a time, alternating between baking sheets and using fresh parchment paper between batches, until all cookies are baked and cut. Allow to cool completely before stacking, storing, or adding chocolate.
- Add chocolate: Melt ( ideally temper) chocolate using your preferred method. Spread a thin layer of chocolate over the bottom of half of the florentines. Top each with another cookie and place on a wire rack. Using a spoon, or a piping bag fitted with a small round tip, drizzle the remaining chocolate over the tops of the cookie sandwiches. Sprinkle with fleur de sel or sea salt if desired and let set before serving.
- Cookie sheets should be allowed to cool completely between batches. If necessary, run under cold water to speed up cooling process.
Ingredient notes and substitutions:
- If you typically prefer salted butter in your cookies, feel free to use it here.
- Light or dark corn syrup can be used, or sub with golden syrup.
- Natural or Dutch process cocoa powder can be used.
- Use gluten-free all-purpose flour to make gluten-free almond florentines.
Storing and shelf life:
- Store florentines in an airtight-container or zip-top bag. They can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator - the latter tends to keep the cookies more crisp once chocolate is added.
- Cookies will stay fresh for 1-2 weeks.
Recipe adapted from Food Network
This recipe was originally published in 2013. It has since been updated with more thorough instructions and updated photos.