Florentine Cookies + The Cookiepedia Book Giveaway {Winners Announced}

Happy Spring!

Well, sort of. It’s still snowing on and off here in Southern Ontario, but I’m hopeful. The good news is that this week is the first week in over 9 months during which I’ve been able to frolic freely in the kitchen and bake anything I wish. So Florentine cookies it was. And you guys, these are amazing. See, quite awhile back, I became enamoured with my talented friend Stacy Adimando’s cookbook, The Cookiepedia: Mixing Baking, and Reinventing the Classics, and I’ve been dying to make something, or everything, from it. 

So when I spotted a recipe for Florentines in her book, I knew I had to make them. And although Florentines are known to be an Italian treat (as the name suggests), I first fell in love with these crunchy, nutty discs of caramelized delight back when I was a teenager working at an Austrian bakery. When I googled this, I realized that appears to be a small debate regarding the Florentine cookie’s origin, but it’s safe to say that it is celebrated in not only Italy and Austria, but now here in my kitchen.  These are the most decadent and surprisingly simple cookies to prepare in all of the land, and I’ll just never get over them. I won’t.

So what exactly is a Florentine? Well, there are some variations, but typically they are super-thin, round, caramelized almond cookies made from butter, sugar, cream, corn syrup, salt and of course almonds, and there is usually some form of dark chocolate added. As you probably noticed in my photos, these ones are drizzled with chocolate as Stacy’s recipe includes, but many have their entire bottoms dipped in chocolate with a distinct pattern added, and include additional ingredients, such as candied fruit. Think of them as individual, lacy almond brittles that shatter in your mouth like little round sheets of nutty, buttery, caramel crack. Sometimes it actually kind of freaks me out that we have the power to create such deliciousness in our own kitchens, especially when it only takes a matter of minutes.

Stacy explains that the idea behind her book was to give 50 classic cookie recipes, and then offer ways to spin them into more modern versions with tons of ideas for adapting the recipes for countless variations. So, for example, she shares a chocolate chip recipe, but also a dark chocolate sea salt chip. And a peanut butter cookie, but also a pistachio butter cookie, and so many more. One of the reasons I love Stacy’s book most, aside from the gorgeous photography and charming illustration work, is that the recipes range so greatly–think everything from frosted animal crackers to French macarons, sables to sesame crisps, and so many more.

I know you guys will adore this book, if you don’t already that is, so I’m excited to host a The Cookiepedia giveaway! I have 3 copies of this go-to cookie book, courtesy of Stacy and Quirk Books, and I will be sending a copy to 3 lucky readers!

I’m also excited to share this recipe for the Florentines–they truly are of the most exquisite cookies I have tasted in a long time. I’ve listed the recipe just as it is in the book, but I have also added the ingredient weights, just in case, as well as some of my own notes below.

Florentine Cookies with Chocolate Drizzles

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen 3-inch round cookies

Decadent nutty, buttery, caramelized cookie discs drizzled in dark chocolate. Recipe as printed in The Cookiepedia cookbook by Stacy Adimando.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (60 grams) corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/3 cups (210 grams) sliced almonds
  • 4 ounces (120 grams) roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set them aside.
  2. Melt the butter, sugar and corn syrup together over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Add the cream and salt and do the same.
  3. Let cook until the mixture comes to a full boil, and then add in the almonds and stir to combine. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes until the mixture thickens and starts to move around the pan in one mass. Take the pan off the heat.
  4. Drop 4 small spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets, leaving as much room between them as possible (the baked cookies will spread to about triple the size).
  5. Using an offset spatula or a wet hand, spread and flatten the batter into 3-inch rounds, creating a thin layer.
  6. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until edges are brown and centers are just turning golden.
  7. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and immediately reshape the cookies back into 3-inch circles, using the offset spatula or the back of a spoon to drag the batter back into place and round the edges. The cookies will harden within a few minutes.
  8. tip: if they harden too fast, just return them to the oven for a minute or so.
  9. Cool the reshaped cookies until they are firm and cool enough to handle. Then move them to a wire rack covered with parchment paper to set completely.
  10. As the optional (though delicious and suggested) finisher, melt the chocolate, in a glass or metal bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the tops of the Florentines. Let harden.
  11. Florentine Ice Cream Sandwiches
  12. When the cookies have cooled completely, skip the chocolate drizzle. Let a container of coffee or vanilla ice cream sit out, or microwave at 10-second intervals, until it's soft enough to dollop. In the meantime, lay half the Florentines on a parchment-lined baking sheet flat side up. Drop a heaping spoonful of the softened ice cream (about 2-3 tablespoons) into the center of each. Top with the remaining cookies and press lightly to adhere. Cover the baking sheet loosely with foil and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used a 1-tablespoon capacity cookie scoop for my cookies, and they spread quite a bit, yielding more of a very thin, large 5 1/2-inch round cookie, but I love them this size, so I simply worked to round the edges when they first came out of the oven. Use about 1 teaspoon size spoon for 3-inch cookies, or somewhere in between.
  • Much like a caramel concoction of any kind, the longer you heat (bake) the cookies, the darker and more intense the caramel flavour and colour will be, so there is a little room for personal preference with the baking times. I baked 1 sheet at a time on the middle rack of the oven, and kept the cookies in for the full 8 minutes. Once they start to turn golden, they have the potential to burn very quickly, so I recommend keeping a super-close eye on them at that point, and remove them from the oven quickly.
  • It might seem as though it’s going to take a lifetime to bake 36 cookies when 4-to-a-tray, but at 8 minutes each, time, it goes by really quickly!
  • I just used a fork to “fling” the melted chocolate onto the cookies in a fun drizzly criss-cross pattern.
  • Stacy mentions that these cookies are best enjoyed right after cooling, and I can certainly agree that these are amazing in that window of time (I could not stop eating them), but I then sealed them in a Ziploc bag after the chocolate drizzle set, and they’re still going strong (ahem) and tasting fabulous at the end of day 2.

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Good luck & enjoy!

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Flamingo Pink Mixer Giveaway!

Flamingo Pink Mixer

Happy, Happy Love Day, friends!

I’m excited to tell you that you will be seeing a lot more of me around here in about 3 weeks, as I finish up the all of the photography for my book. Once the photography has been submitted, I look forward to blogging like a crazy woman. I’ve missed you! It’s been a crazy year, working on this book, but I’m so eager to see it all come together–I can’t wait to share it with you (even a sneak peek!).

So to say thank you for being so patient with my absence, and because it’s the pinkest day of the year, I thought I would give away a  Kitchenaid 4.5 Qt Stand Mixer in this amazing Flamingo Pink shade, to one lucky reader!

Flamingo Pink KitchenAid Mixer

While the giveaway details are the same as always, I’m trying out a new system for managing the giveaway, so it should be as smooth as can be to enter. xo

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Good luck, and I hope you’re being adored to smithereens today!

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Best-Loved Bakers’ Gifts 2013 + a Giveaway! {Winner Announced}

The winner of the Best-Loved Bakers’ Gifts 2013 Giveaway is . . .

#2778 Melissa Davison: “ERMEHGERD! That is the exact color of mixer I have been pining for for ages! My kitchen is all vintage pastels so this would be perfect! Anyway, I’m not a holiday celebrator for religious reasons, but I will say that whenever that time of year comes around, I get to craving some serious pie! Every week for months, I’ve been making a few and passing them around to family and friends. I think this week will be German Chocolate Pie!”

Congratulations, Melissa ! You will also be notified by email.

I’ll be back soon with another recipe!

. . .

Sweetapolita's Best-Loved Bakers' Gifts 2013

1. Candy Shop Apron 2. Mixer Tees 3. Frosted Donut Ornaments 4. Pistachio KitchenAid Artisan Mixer 5. Modern Love Cake Topper  6. Handmade Cake Sign 7. At the Patisserie Print

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 8. The Secret Lives of Baked Goods 9. Cupcake Soaps 10. Mosser Jadeite Cake Stand 11. Merry Pinkmas Polish 12. Bakers’ Twine 13. Baked With Love Tags   14. Fox Run Retro Kitchen Timer

Yay for pretty baking stuff!

Happy December, everyone! First I just want to tell you that I’m so close to my book manuscript due date, which can only mean one thing: frequent blogging again. And of course it means I’ll be even closer to sharing my actual book with you. It’s been quite a journey, to say the least. I wish I could tell you all about the recipes you’ll find inside, but alas we’ll keep that a secret. Let’s just say it will be my heart and soul . . . in print. And a lot of butter and sugar! So what I’m trying to say is thank you so much for being patient. I know my presence has been sporadic, but I’m here. xo

So from presence to presents, let’s get back to these holiday gifts. With the holidays, well, here (eek!), I want to share some of my favourite baker gift ideas with you and, yep, you guessed it: one lucky reader is going to WIN one of everything! 

Let’s talk a little bit more about all of this prettiness . . .

Sweetapolita Loves: 

1. Candy Shop Aprons: As you probably guessed, I have a thing for aprons, but I think every baker does. But I think it’s one of those things that people have a hard time buying themselves, yet they’re so useful. I’m always scrambling for a nice, clean ready-to-mess apron among my kitchen linens, and the pretty ones always get chosen first. I adore this pink polka-dotted Marilyn Strawberry Shortcake Apron from Flirty Aprons. If pink’s not your thing, it also comes in mint green, black and more. So pretty.

2. Handmade Mixer Tees: I just came across these a few weeks ago, and I think they are the cutest. These Mixer Tees from Caustic Threads on Etsy are hand printed, and come in everything from baby onesies to adult tees, and you can choose your own colours. Love these.

3. Frosted Donut Ornaments: I’m pretty certain I don’t need to explain why these are awesome, but aren’t they? Our Christmas tree is adorned with plenty a baked-good ornament, and it brings me great happiness every time I look at them. You can find these charming Frosted Donut Ornaments, along with countless other sweet-themed ornaments (think chocolate cream pie, banana splits and blueberry pie, to name a few), on Trendy Tree. If sugar’s not your thing, how about a shimmery pickle, t-bone steak, or watermelon-wedge ornament? They’ve got ‘em.

4. Pastel KitchenAid Mixer: Okay, so we all love them, but they do make for an ambitiously generous gift. But what about giving a gift card towards your baker-recipient’s favourite mixer? My current obsession is this minty Pistachio Green shade, but KitchenAid’s Artisan Mixer collection offers almost any colour you can dream of. (Of all of the shops that sell them, online or otherwise, I find Target has the best price.)

5. Modern Love Cake Topper: Love is right! I’m in utter love with this entire dessert topper collection–a collaboration between the fabulous Sweet & Saucy Shop and the talented Little Cat Design Co. Choose between wood or any of the gorgeous acrylic colour options, for a completely custom topper. (I’ll take one in every shade, please.) These are so lovely!

6. Handmade “Cake” Sign: Over the past many months, I’ve been collecting cakey props for my book photos, and I think this might be my favourite of all (and I mean ALL, #runningoutofspace #andmoney). You can order it in one of many colour choices, and either use it as a dessert table decoration, hang it on your wall or . . . tuck it into bed with you at night. No matter what you do with it, it’s so cute. I got the turquoise one here, but I also ordered a different one from here. You can find several versions of these on Etsy. (Supporting handmade just feels good, and those folks on Etsy make such great stuff!)

7. Patisserie Print: Why not give the gift of dessert-themed art? Etsy boasts many talented artists, so options are a plenty, but my heart belongs to A Fanciful Twist. Vanessa Valencia brings her sense of whimsy and magic to every piece she does (and she clearly has a thing for sweets). This print, “At the Patisserie” hangs in my bedroom, and it is still my favourite.

♥ ♥ ♥

8. Baking Books: For some reason, the more baking books we get, there’s always room for another–especially when it’s as charming and delightful as Jessie Oleson Moore’s latest book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods. Sure, the web is a bountiful land of online recipes and such, but there’s nothing like holding a beautiful baking book in your hands, turning the crisp pages, taking it all in and feeling instantly inspired. I’m convinced pretty baking books will always be a best-loved gift for a baking enthusiast. Always.

9. Cakey Soaps: Lusciously scented and beyond adorable, dessert-themed soaps make for a wonderful bakers’ holiday gift idea, stocking stuffer or hostess gift. I found these little cuties on Etsy (yep, Etsy rocks), and they are irresistible.

10. Jadeite Cake Pedestal: What is it with us bakers and vintagey cake stuff? Jadeite is so charming and nostalgic that it makes for the perfect little cake stand. Mosser Glass is known for their gorgeously crafted pedestals, and I’m rather addicted to them. Although they come in pink, blue, white, yellow and more, the Jadeite Cake Stand is a must-have. So darn sweet.

11. Merry Pinkmas Nail Polish: Need I say more? I love K.B. Shimmer polishes. So many sprinkles and sparkles! Pair that with cute-as-heck names and gorgeous shades, these make for a unique and rather awesome gift. My current obsession is the holiday pink shade: Merry Pinkmas.

12. Holiday Baker’s Twine: With so many amazing colour options of baker’s twine out there, it makes for a wonderful gift. What baker doesn’t love twirling and whirling colourful twine around cake boxes and such? It’s functional and beyond charming. It also makes for a perfect little add-on to any gift, or of course an ideal stocking stuffer. Right now I’m loving this white & minty green shade.

13. Baking Gift Tags: See that’s the thing with giving to bakers–they’re always giving too. There’s nothing better than a homemade batch of holiday treats packaged with a pretty little tag. These make for handy (and pretty-as-can-be) little gifts, so bakers can share their goodies in style all year long. I fell for these Baked With Love Tags. Give’em or use ‘em yourself–either way they’re a must-have. (And they’d be perfect with the minty baker’s twine!)

14.  Retro Magnetic Kitchen Timer: Every baker needs a timer (or plenty), and this one is everything a timer should be: useful, pretty and magnetic. I have this in Retro Kitchen Timer, but it also come in an array of colours. This would make for a handy and handsome hostess gift, stocking stuffer or more.

So wait! Before you run off to holiday shop, here’s what one lucky reader is going to receive:

*All prizes with the exception of the Modern Love Topper are courtesy Sweetapolita. Modern Love Topper courtesy Sweet & Saucy. 

TO ENTER:

To enter this giveaway, simply answer the following question in the comments section of this post:

What is your favourite holiday treat? I’d love to know!

  • For an extra entry, come over to Facebook and “like” Sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry. If you already like Sweetapolita on Facebook, just come back and leave a comment telling me that. *Comments on Facebook itself aren’t entries (although I love your FB comments!). Your comment has to be here in the comments section, as that is where the random winner is chosen.
  • For an additional entry share the Sweetapolita Facebook Giveaway post on your own Facebook page, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry, share this post on Twitter and include @sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.

THE RULES:

  • One entry per person, plus additional qualified bonus entries (mentioned above). Your comment may take a few moments to appear.
  • Winners will be announced Thursday, December 12th, 2013.

Best of luck & happy gifting!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Retro Stars Mixer Giveaway! {Winner Announced}

And the winner of the Retro Stars KitchenAid 5QT Mixer is . . .

#1822 Jody: “I’d love to visit the late 40′s, after the war, when things were prosperous and the fashion and cars were amazing.”

Congratulations, Jody! You will also be notified by email.

I will be back soon with another sweet recipe to share!

. . .

 

KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway via Sweetapolita

image source

Hello, hello!

So today wasn’t going to be a mixer-giving-away-blog-post kind of day, but yesterday I googled “decals for stand mixers” (this is the type of random thought that hits me in the middle of doing something completely unrelated), and I came across this most awesome photo and Retro Stars decal design on Etsy. And while there are many mixer decal styles out there, this one speaks to me.

I think it’s my connection to the 1960s–a side effect which likely comes from watching countless Betwitched reruns with my 60s-born older sister while I was growing up. It’s not so much the “hippie life,” that appeals to me, but rather the strange fluffy pop culture of the era like, say, Valley of the Dolls and Nancy Sinatra (I’m not certain I should be necessarily be proud of this affinity). Well actually, it’s sort of a cross between the 1950s and the 1960s I’m drawn to–you know, baking a layer cake with an aqua Mixmaster in a pink kitchen listening to this and wearing this. I mean . . . come on.

And as for the 1960s, any era from which the Easy-Bake Oven came, is one I can wrap my heart around.

So in honour of my love for, well, all of that, I’m giving one very lucky reader a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer (in Aqua Sky or any colour you’d prefer), along with these Retro Stars Decals! The decals take the mixer to a whole new level of cuteness (and can be removed at any time with no trace that they were ever there). So fun.

TO ENTER:

To enter this giveaway, simply answer the following question in the comments section of this post:

If you could live in any era, which one would you choose? Is your heart in the 1960s à la Mad Men and Bewitched? The Roaring 20s? Or perhaps you secretly wish you were living on Little House on the Prairie in the 1800s? I’d love to know!

  • For an extra entry, come over to Facebook and “like” Sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry share the Sweetapolita Facebook Giveaway post on your own Facebook page, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry, share this post on Twitter and include @sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.

THE RULES:

  • One entry per person, plus additional qualified bonus entries (mentioned above). Your comment may take a few moments to appear.
  • Winners will be announced Tuesday, October 8th, 2013.

Best of luck to you!

*This giveaway is sponsored by Sweetapolita & GoodMommyLLC.

I’ll see you very soon with another recipe!

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A Birthday + Pink Mixer Giveaway! {Winner Announced}

And the winner of the Pink KitchenAid 5 QT Mixer Giveaway is . . .

#3309 Jenny Holiday: “If I were a cake…. The Pink Champagne Cake at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, CA!! The pink curls on top remind me of a hairdo I had for my cousin’s wedding! :)”

Congratulations, Jenny! You will also be notified by email.

I will be back soon with another sweet recipe to share!

. . .

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It’s my birthday!

I’m one of those people who love to make a big deal out of birthdays (even my own), so I couldn’t let today happen without celebrating with you in some way. That’s why I’m giving one of you an it’s-my-birthday gift — this super awesome, pink KitchenAid Komen Foundation Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer! It’s my favourite colour of the KitchenAid collection, and the one I use every day. Needless to say, it brings me infinite joy!

Giveaway is now closed. 

TO ENTER: 

To enter this giveaway, simply answer the following question in the comments section of this post:

If you were a cake, what kind would you be?

Surely there’s a cake that epitomizes your personality: vanilla birthday cake? opera cake? carrot cake? upside down pineapple cake?

  • For an extra entry, come over to Facebook and “like” Sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry share the Sweetapolita Facebook Giveaway post on your own Facebook page, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry, share this post on Twitter and include @sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.

 THE RULES:

  • One entry per person, plus additional qualified bonus entries (mentioned above). Your comment may take a few moments to appear. 
  • Winners will be announced Tuesday, July 30th, 2013.

Best of luck to you and Happy Birthday to me!

*This giveaway is sponsored by Sweetapolita. 

I’ll see you very soon with another recipe!

 

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