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Butter Fried Cookies

March 31, 2010

Never have I seen such a clamoring for a recipe as many of you displayed last Sunday at the very mention of cookies fried in butter.

I am half tempted to pull a Scheherazade and keep up the level of anticipation.  But even now I fear the anticipation is way too high and that people will be disappointed as I reveal the recipe today.

Here is the thing.  TECHNICALLY they are probably not fried.  My Food Lover’s Companion says that to fry is “To cook food in hot fat over moderate to high heat.”  These cookies kind of do that, but some might suggest the recipe is closer to a confit, which is “slowly cooked in its own fat.”

But in my book these are just shades of gray.  Either way they are delicious.  I’ll explain a bit more after the recipe.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m 98% sure this is the recipe I used.  But I do remember a few things that were different, and I have adjusted it accordingly.

Orange-Almond Lace Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1999

¾ C (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
Enough blanched almonds to yield 1½ C when finely chopped
¾ C sugar
1 T all-purpose flour
2 t grated orange peel
½ t salt
(1 large egg, beaten to blend – optional)

Yes, the recipe is correct.  These cookies only have one tablespoon of flour.

Unless you want to do a lot of extra work, buy blanched almonds.  Toast them on a cookie sheet in a 350°F oven, shaking the pan periodically, being careful not to burn them.  It should take between 10 and 15 minutes. Reset the oven to 325°F.

Let the almonds cool slightly and chop them finely in a food processor; you are looking for a coarse almond meal.

Stir ¾ cup butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts, sugar, flour, orange peel and salt.

I cannot recall if I used the egg or not.  If memory serves, the egg makes the cookies sturdier, but part of the fun of these cookies is their delicacy.  Still, it’s a lot less fun if all your cookies crumble.  One commenter suggested having luck by just using the egg white.  If you chose to use an egg, this is where you mix it into the batter.

Now you’ve got your dough.  And it’s not really quite like dough.  It’s more like a suspension of nuts and sugar in butter.

Get a few cookie sheets out (I used three) and line them with parchment paper.  You are going to need to work in batches.

Drop some batter by scant tablespoonfuls (or less if you want smaller cookies) onto the first prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.  The dough will flatten, and you want plenty of space between the finished cookies.  Trust me.

“Bake” cookies until lacy and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  But when this first batch is in the oven, you watch and see how they cook.  The butter melts, and the almonds and sugar spread out in the hot pool of fat.  As the butter continues to heat up, it starts to bubble.  And it’s those bubbles that ultimately form the delicate lace pattern in these delicious cookies.

They absolutely look like they are being fried in butter.  If you want to call that confit, I’m fine with that.  But saying these cookies are baked doesn’t do them justice.

When the cookies are done, gently slide parchment paper with cookies onto rack; cool completely. Getting the cookies off the parchment paper can be a bit tricky.  Just be patient and thankful that you didn’t crowd the cookies on the sheet.  I had some luck when I thought about getting the paper off the cookie instead of the other way around.  Transfer cookies to paper towels.

Repeat with remaining batter, lining cooled baking sheet with clean parchment for each batch.

Bon Appétit reports that you can make these ahead of time. Just store them between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.

Dammit.

Now I’m out of time to actually tell you the story about these cookies and the advertising agency bakeoff.  So, I guess we’ll just have to save exactly what I did to make these extra special for another day.

I swear this wasn’t my plan from the start.
Did I mention Scheherazade?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. maltnsmoke permalink
    March 31, 2010 10:54 am

    Literary references notwithstanding, imagine ordering a dish that was placed on a cookie sheet and popped into an oven and yet being told that it had not been baked. Also, although it was not cooked in its own fat, it was declared to be a fried in the oven (?) confit. (I know the modern definition of confit has been broadened, but I don’t like that any more than the trend of any thinly sliced edible being passed off as a carpaccio). Would the detached reflection that followed gastronomic bliss give rise to charges of minor deception and/or gimmickry?

    What’s next, a deconstructed Coquille St Jacques, served as pan fried and baked scallop confit? Melon tartar? I’m sure there are a thousand and one worse offences committed on any given Arabian night, but still…

  2. Florentine Fan permalink
    April 3, 2010 10:47 am

    I think these are typically called Florentines, and are usually sandwiched with a little chocolate as “glue”. I took the recipe from the food network. They are my favorite cookies, and since I am somewhat recently gluten free, I’m hoping that the tiny bit of flour can be successfully replaced with GF flour. If anyone tries it, please post back the results.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/florentines-recipe2/index.html

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