Mandelbrot is just part of the story

Mandelbrot - cooling

A recipe is a list.
A recipe is a blueprint.
A recipe is a map.

The thing about an old family recipe is how it can help you reconstruct a memory and make it present. How just reading it is like reading a memoir of your own childhood, written as you lived the moment.

A recipe is an artifact.
A recipe is a thumbprint.
A recipe is a photograph.

An old family recipe is a thing. A scrap of paper, an index card, a notebook page. It was scratched out on the back of a paper bag, or on the top sheet of the pad that sat by the telephone. It was ripped out of a magazine. It bears the evidence of being handled. It’s splattered, creased, greased. It preserves your mother’s handwriting, and your grandmother’s annotation: “From Shirl.”

A recipe is a whistle.
A recipe is a signal.
A recipe is a telephone.

The recipe is a practical thing. It directs and points. If it’s a good recipe, it stands by your shoulder and tells you just how much to stir that batter, just how dark to bake that bread, just what shape those cookies should be. Have always been. It tells you when you can trust your own judgement and when you must be exact.

A recipe is a thread.
A recipe is a story.
A recipe is circle.

The old recipe is a connection between the you that was and the you that is, between the people you loved and who loved you enough to cook for you, even when they are no longer here. If you’re lucky, it draws a thread from you back to a person so distant in your past that you never knew her. But she cooked this recipe for her little girl, who maybe grew up to be your grandmother.

An old family recipe is one tale in the long manuscript of things that made you you. It’s a story you recite as you follow it. It’s a story you put into the hands of your own children and tell them, “Eat this. Taste this. Remember this. Tell this.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My sister and I are working on a project this year. We’re collecting our favorite family recipes, along with those of our extended family, to create a bound memory of tastes. Some of these recipes (like the one on this page) are childhood favorites, and some are ones that we’ve developed as we’ve lived on our own, feeding ourselves, our friends, and our families. If you’re reading this and you’re related to us, you’ll probably be hearing from us; we want your recipe memories, too!

In the meantime, let’s start with our grandmother Martha’s Mandelbrot (also called mandel bread). Mandelbrot is Yiddish for almond bread. It’s a twice-baked cookie, pretty much the Jewish version of biscotti. It’s nutty. Not too sweet. Something you’d make to serve with coffee when the “girls” came over for mahjong. Or something you’d hand a teething toddler. Or something you, if you were me, would bake on one of your wistful days when you could have used a hug from your grandmother.

Mandelbrot - chilled overnight

Mandelbrot - after first bake

Mandelbrot - sliced after first bake

Mandelbrot - ready for second bake

Mandelbrot - cooling

Mandelbrot

In process

Martha’s Mandelbrot

Ingredients

1 cup whole almonds
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Toast the almonds in your oven or in a dry skillet.* (If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry; it’s not hard. Read how to do it here.)
  2. When the almonds are cool, grind them in a food processor to the texture you like. I like small crumbs, not powdered but not big chunks. I like to see flecks of nut in the mandelbrot.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground almonds.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla.
  5. Combine the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix gently until all of the flour is absorbed. This should form a pretty stiff dough. You need it to be stiff so that you can form logs with it. If it’s too wet, add more flour. If it’s so dry that it won’t hold together, add a bit of water.
  6. Divide the dough into three equal portions.
  7. Form each portion into a log about 6 inches long and and about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter (you don’t have to be a stickler here; use whatever length and diameter sounds good to you!).
  8. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and put on a cookie sheet or sheet pan. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight.
  9. 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  10. Unwrap the logs, place them on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet (spaced at least 3 inches apart), and bake for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and slice the loaves while they are still warm. Slice to whatever thickness you like. I sliced mine about 1/2 inch thick.
  12. Return the slices to the cookie sheet, either on their sides or edges, for a final bake. The mandelbrot won’t rise during this second bake, so you can kind of crowd them together on the sheet, as long as they aren’t touching.
  13. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until they’ve turned the shade of light golden brown you like.
  14. Remove from the sheet and let cool on a cooling rack.

The mandelbrot will easily stay fresh in a cookie tin for a week. They also freeze beautifully.

* Martha’s recipe makes no mention of toasting the almonds; this is how old recipes change as they travel time, I suppose.

Let’s raise a glass

The cocktail

The citrus

The drowsy cranberries

Here we are again, my old friend November. You’re a formidable foe, but you’re on the way out for another year and I’m still writing.

So, here’s to you, November, and your relentlessly grey skies, your bare branches, your frozen water bucket mornings, your summerish deceptions, your early dusks, your inevitable lurch towards winter. I raise a glass to you.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For this Thanksgiving, M concocted a festive little cranberry punch for us, the very which I’m sipping as I write this.

We’ve tentatively named it the “Thanksgiving Cranberry Spatchcocktail” (spatchcocking being an old technique—renewed in popularity recently—for preparing a turkey where you remove the bird’s backbone and flatten it like an open book before cooking it).

M has graciously written up the recipe for us (below). May you drink it in good health. And may it make you pleasantly spineless for an hour or two.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Spatchcocktail

Yield: About 8 drinks


To prepare the drowsy cranberries

Note: If possible, make the drowsy cranberries a day or so ahead of time so they’ll be nice and potent.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
3 tsp orange zest
3 tsp grated ginger
1.5 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup light rum

  1. In a small saucepan combine the sugar, water, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange zest, and grated ginger.
  2. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add the fresh cranberries to the sugar-spice mixture.
  4. Turn heat to medium and cook until the cranberries pop.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand for an hour.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to move the cranberries to a sealable jar.
  7. Use a fine strainer or cheesecloth to pour the syrup over the cranberries (discard the cinnamon, cloves, and ginger/zest bits).
  8. Add 1 cup of light rum to the jar.
  9. Seal the jar and let steep as long as you like.
  10. Chill well before using.

To prepare and serve the cocktail

1 bottle Prosecco
Light and dark rum, to taste
1 orange
1 lime
1 lemon
Mint leaves
Ice

  1. Pour the chilled syrup into a pitcher or bowl (reserve the drowsy cranberries).
  2. Add 1 bottle very cold Prosecco.
  3. Top punch with alternating small glugs of light and dark rum, to taste.
  4. Serve alongside: ice, mint leaves, the drowsy cranberries, thin slices of orange, lemon and lime.

Nothing but time

Apple tree waking up

Pure silliness. Egged on by the promise of a plan-free weekend with clear weather, we started a mental to-do list on Saturday morning, once again blind to the difference between the time it takes to say a task and the time it takes to do it.

No matter. It’s a spring weekend. We’re beguiled by opening day at the Farmers Market, warm sunlight, a chance to drive with the car windows down, chorusing morning birds, extra minutes of daylight, and nothing pressing on our calendar. We can do what we want!

So we did. After morning chores, we sped off to the Farmers Market, bustling and busy even this early in the season. We met a six-day old Boer goat, we bought apple turnovers, we bought and ate the most wonderful pierogi I’ve ever had, then we went back and bought and ate some more.

Then off to the co-op for supplies for the various cooking projects we had in mind (tamales, slow-smoked ribs, mini quiche), then a quick stop at a consignment clothing sale in the next town over.

Home again, put the groceries and market treats away.

Visited the bees! This time we were looking for evidence of eggs and we found them. In the black frame cells, you can see small white lines, like grains of rice. Those are eggs. In other cells, there are curled larvae, the next stage. Other cells are waxed over: capped brood. This is where the fed larvae grow, until they emerge as fully-formed bees in a couple of weeks.

This is exciting. Seeing all this evidence of soon-to-be bees means the queen is healthy and doing her work. We haven’t seen the queen yet (since we put her into the hive in her cage), but we know she’s there and we’re hoping to spot her when we next open the hive.

M also noticed at least one worker with full pollen sacs (see the bee with bright yellow “saddle bags” in the middle of that second bee photo?). This means they’re starting to forage out in the world and will become less dependent on our sugar water and will be bringing back wild pollen and nectar. Bee happiness.

On a roll now, we decide to open the goat-milk cheddar that’s been aging in the cool basement since early January and we deem it quite acceptable.

The weekend rolls on and into Sunday. The cooking projects invade the kitchen and the Egg on the porch. We’ve got tamales and ribs in the works, yes. And a new batch of cheddar culturing. And a small pot of rhubarb jam bubbling down to sticky sweetness on the stove. And M saw some beautiful bluefish at the co-op so, after a day of drying in its rub on Saturday, that’s now smoking on the Egg. Meanwhile we’ve promised to make several dozen mini goat cheese quiches for H’s elementary school’s annual Medieval Festival (if you live around here and have kids, you really need to go. It’s a blast and we’re fairly sure that it won’t snow this year…)

At some point, late afternoon, H is at rehearsal for her school’s spring musical and M and I are whirling around the kitchen, busy as bees, laughing at the ridiculousness of how much we’ve taken on, the sink piled high with dishes, every pot used, the oven cranking away.

It’s crazy, exhaustingly wonderful.

By dinnertime, we’re running out of steam. We’ve made all the food to eat (plus a tamale pie, plus other things I can’t even remember) and have just enough energy to pile the plates, open a bottle of prosecco, and fall onto the couch, where we watch Audrey Hepburn in “Wait Until Dark” while the evening drapes darkness around the house.

There are still dishes to do, books we were going to read, blueberry bushes we were going to buy and plant, photographs to take, things to write, things to plan, more lists to make.

Ah well. Maybe next weekend.

FarmersMarket

Starting the smoker

Eggs! Larvae! Capped brood!

Full pollen sacs

Clothbound goat milk cheddar

Clothbound goat milk cheddar - disrobed

Clothbound goat milk cheddar - paste

Pierogi

Pierogies - Mushroom and Moroccan Lamb

I’m an Eastern European mutt, descended from grandparents and great grandparents who were born in the tiny, border shifting villages of Romania, Russia, and Poland. At some point, my ancestors may have been Ukranian, or Hungarian, or Bulgarian. We have no records that far back, but considering the politics and the fluid borders of that part of the world, anything’s possible.

Pierogies - Dried porcini

I do know that I’m at least half Polish, by virtue of a grandmother born in Warsaw and great grandparents who emigrated from elsewhere in Poland. But, in spite of all that Polish influence, I don’t remember a single pierogi from my childhood. I somehow associate them with gentile Polish cuisine, even though they are just a whisper away from kreplach, the Jewish dumpling that so keenly resembles the periogi (or, for that matter, Asian dumplings and Italian ravioli). Or is it vice versa?

Pierogies - Wild mushroom filling

No matter. They all amount to a thin skin of dough wrapped around a precious dollop of flavor. Often a small amount of ground meat mixed with spices, but just as commonly a vegetable mixture, or fruit, or sweetened cheese.

Pierogies - Moroccan lamb filling

I chose Poland as January’s destination for My Kitchen, My World because I really wanted to learn how to make (and eat) pierogi. It turns out, as with any of these dumplings, the fun (and the real work) is in the fillings. You can stick to the traditional (potato and cheese are popular), or be more exotic. Blueberries, Indian spices, sauteed tofu, spiced apples, chipotle-cheese and salsa, Thai peanut sauce with chicken are just a few of the ideas I came across when researching recipies. In the end, I chose wild mushroom, Moroccan lamb, and sweet ricotta.

Pierogies - Cutting circles

Pierogies - Filling

Pierogies - Folded

Pierogi making is a multi-step process that you can spread out over a few days, or make all in one intensive session (I picture Polish grandmothers, mothers, and daughters congregated in kitchens for pierogi-making afternoons).

Pierogies - Ready to freeze

Once formed, however, you can defer the cooking and eating part until later by freezing the pierogi until you’re ready for them. The final thawing and cooking makes for an easy week-night dinner accompanied by some kielbasa and roasted brussels sprouts.

Pierogies - Packaged

I loved all of the pierogi I made, but my favorite were the ones filled with sweet ricotta cheese, and drizzled with a caramel-cabernet reduction sauce that a friend sent us for the holidays. I don’t have the recipe for that sauce yet, but maybe I can trade some pierogi for it.

Pierogies - Sweet ricotta filling

Pierogi

Yield: 20-40 pierogi, depending on the size you make

Dough ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 large egg

Sweet ricotta filling
(enough to fill about 1/4 of the above dough recipe)
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract

Method

  1. Make the fillings and allow to cool. For our pierogi, I made this wild mushroom filling, this Moroccan lamb tagine recipe (note: I used only a portion of the recipe for the pierogi; the rest we ate with rice for another meal), and a sweet ricotta filling by whipping together the second set of ingredients above.
  2. To make the dough, put the flour and salt in a bowl and whisk to blend. Make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, beat together the water, egg, and oil with a fork, then pour into the well. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating the flour into the liquids until all the ingredients are combined and you have a soft dough. Knead a few times, round up into a ball, put in a lightly greased bowl, and cover to rest at room temperature for an hour.
  3. When the dough has rested and the fillings are ready, divide the dough into two pieces and, leaving one piece covered in the bowl, roll the other piece out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or a glass to cut circles of the size you want. I used a small biscuit cutter to make circles about an inch-and-a-half in diameter.
  4. Put a small amount of filling in the center of a dough circle (the amount of fillingdepends on the size of the circle, but you want to leave a nice margin around the edge for crimping), then fold the circle in half and crimp the edges to seal them.
  5. Put the formed pierogi on a parchment lined pan to wait as you form the rest, moving on to the second piece of dough as necessary. Once they are all formed, you can either cook them immediately, or freeze them for storage (see below).
  6. To cook the pierogi, boil a large pot of lightly salted water. Once the water is boiling, slip the pierogies into the pot. They’ll settle to the bottom at first, so give them a little stir to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot or each other. In a few minutes, they’ll begin to float to the top. Once they are floating, boil them a further 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon.
  7. You can eat the pierogi boiled, or you can finish them by pan frying them in bit of butter or oil until they are brown and a bit crispy, a few minutes per side.
  8. To freeze uncooked pierogi for later, put the tray of pierogi in the freezer until they are completely frozen, then transfer them to plastic bags until you’re ready to use them. On the morning of cooking day, spread the frozen pierogi on trays again and leave in the refrigerator to thaw. When they are thawed follow the steps above to boil and pan fry them.

~~~~~~~~
To see the round up of the group’s Polish recipes, visit the My Kitchen My World (MKMW) site. (You can also see where the group has already traveled.) To join in, just make a dish (or more) for the month’s country, blog about it, and put a link to your post in the comments on the MKMW page.

In February, we travel to the Czech Republic.

The toast truck will serve soft-ripened goat cheese

Toast

This month’s Let’s Lunch theme is Kummerspeck, a German word that means “grief bacon,” the extra layer of fat one accrues from emotional overeating. This is a condition I’m familiar with, particularly this time of year.

If I’m completely honest, in times of deep trouble, what I often crave most is a bag of potato chips (or crisps, if you’re reading from the other side of the pond). And possibly a tub of french onion dip. Of my own.

But this wouldn’t be much of a post if I wrote, “Go to the store, grab a bag of chips, there you go.” And, yes, I could have gone to the lengths of making my own hand-cut chips (and dip from fresh herbs and homemade sour cream), but that’s pure silliness. When I’m in desperate need of comfort, the last thing I should be doing is getting anywhere near the mandoline blade or a pot of boiling oil.

So what I’ll write about here instead is toast. Because toast can be as simple or complex as you’d like. Because you can make it without risking much harm to life and limb. And because it has the essential components that make it an ideal comfort food: simplicity, speed, crunch, starch, warmth, flexibility, portability.

Toast is a palette, a platform, an edible Zelig that can take the form you need for the moment.

Toasting bread

A bit more

No matter how miserable you feel, within a span of ten minutes, you can make two slices of toast and be back on the sofa, nibbling at the crunchy corners, licking the sweet butter and jam from your fingers, and watching a favorite black-and-white movie.

Toast requires no ceremony, no special implements or equipment (though a toaster does make the process simpler), and no special skill.

You can make it fancy if you want. You can make it in the Catalan style, grilled, then rubbed with garlic and tomato, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt. Or, similarly, as the Italians do, topped with crushed tomatoes, basil, and olive oil, calling it bruschetta.

Or buy a loaf of sliced white bread on your way home from work, and eat a toasted peanut butter sandwich while you stand at the kitchen counter sorting the stack of bills and junk mail.

Or, early in the morning, spread a slice of bread with butter, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, put it under the broiler until it browns and turns sugary spicy, then go out onto the porch and watch the dawn rise.

You can carry single-serving packets of Nutella in your backpack on a mountain trail, then stop by a waterfall to spread the hazelnut-chocolate on packaged “toasts” while you scrutinize the map.

You can go to a June field, harvest organic strawberries, cook them down into a bubbling jam, and can them for the toast of future winters.

Or chop clementines into bits, mix with the juice of more clementines, honey, a vanilla bean and some whole cloves, and simmer it down into quick winter marmalade that will refresh a someday sultry summer day.

Jarred

You can cook bacon with onions, garlic, coffee, vinegar, brown sugar and maple syrup until you can’t ignore the savory waft coming from your stove, pulse it down into a paste, and call it “bacon jam.” And if you have any left over, you can spread it on crusty bread, top it with goat-milk ricotta cheese, and broil it until it’s irresistibly crunchy and brown.

Bacon Jam

You can bake your own artisanal loaf of bread, or bring one home from the farmers’ market, or the corner store. You can churn your own butter from the creamy top of the quart you milked from your cow this morning, or you can unwrap an unsalted stick you bought at the grocery store last week.

It doesn’t matter, because all toast, in whatever guise, is your friend, a momentary refuge from everything that is difficult and complicated and prissy.

Ricotta-bacon jam bruschetta

Can I tell you one more toast thing? About my fantasy of owning a little “toast truck”? I’d drive it around town, like the ice cream truck, only I’d serve freshly toasted slices of bread I’d baked the day before, topped with jams or cheeses or spreads that I’d cooked up in the evenings.

And you’d be there on the curb in the morning with your mug of coffee, steam swirling up to your nose, and I’d hand you the slices you’d chosen, and we’d be laughing over some joke you’d made, and you’d brush the crumbs from your mouth with the back of your hand as we talked, and, right there, together we could see the whole beautiful, buttery day in front of us.

~~~~~~~~~~~
Not comforted yet? You should go see what the rest of the Let’s Lunch group craves in their moment of need…

Caramel, Chocolate and Salted Peanut Ice Cream from Lisa at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Pot Stickers from Tammi at Insatiable Munchies
Sabaw ng Monggo: Mung Bean Soup with Bacon from Betty Ann at Asian in America
Dark Chocolate Vanilla Pomegranate Parfait from Linda at Spicebox Travels
Slap Yo’ Mama Brownies from Lucy at In a Southern Kitchen
“Hug-in-a-bowl” noodles from Vivian at Vivian Pei
Evil Grief Brownies from Annabelle at Glass of Fancy
Chicken Noodle Soup from Margaret at Tea and Scones
German pancakes from Cheryl at A Tiger in the Kitchen
Beef Bourguinon with kartoffelkloesse AND maple candied bacon from Karen at GeoFooding
Cold fried chicken and potato salad from Lucy at A Cook and Her Books

Toast recipes

I know you don’t need me to tell you how to make toast, so I’ll just share a few links to toast-related recipes I like. If you have a favorite toast recipe, I’d love to know about it!

Toastable breads
Julia Child’s white toasting bread
Peter Reinhart’s Multigrain Extraordinaire
My favorite Challah

Jams, jellies and spreads
Bacon jam
Cajeta (goat-milk caramel)
Brown sugar clementine marmalade
Crabapple jelly
Chocolate hazelnut spread
Vanilla-peach jam
Hummus
Pesto
Freudenspeck Beef Bourguinon with Kartoffelkloesse plus maple candied bacon from Karen at GeoFooding

Dairy
Cow milk ricotta
Goat milk ricotta
Cream cheese
Butter, cultured and non-cultured

Toasty recipes
Cinnamon toast with butter and honey
Catalan tomato bread
Bruschetta

Florentines

Florentines

True facts about the Florentine…

~ There’s a bakery down the road from here that makes florentines as big as your open hand. No really. If you’re in the neighborhood, you must go get two; one for now and one for later.

Florentines - Orange peels

~ The genesis of my dream florentine is oranges. Some people make florentines without any candied fruit at all; some people make them with a combination of fruits. But if orange isn’t the predominant flavor, it just doesn’t count as a florentine for me.

Florentines - Toasted almonds

Florentines - Ingredients

~ The florentine name suggests that this cookie is from Italy, specifically Florence. That’s what I thought, anyway. I was wrong. In fact, no one really seems to know where this cookie was invented, though all evidence points to France. If you want to read a little more about the history of the florentine, you should check out this interesting post from Honestcooking.com.

Florentines - Syrup

~ H, in utero, was formed from four major food groups: frozen yogurt, fruit salad, bistro ham sandwiches, and florentines. Alas, today, she has lost her taste for all but the first.

Florentines - Nut, syrup, and peel mixture

Florentines - Baked

~ The recipe for florentines seems long when I write it out, but there are no really finicky steps and it’s easy to break the recipe down into manageable pieces. For instance, when I made them I broke the process into three easy days:

  1. Make the candied orange peels (you can skip this step if you already have the orange peels or are buying them).
  2. Make the syrup, almond, fruit, and flour mixture. Then bake the cookies.
  3. Spread the chocolate.

Making the candied orange peels from scratch is the only step that takes much time, and even that isn’t too bad.

Florentines - Chocolate hardening

~ Florentines stay fresh for a long time; unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they last a long time. It all depends on how well you can hide them. From me.

Florentines

Florentines

From Paris Boulangerie-Pâtisserie, by Linda Dannenberg (Gramercy Books, 1994)
Yield: 24 cookies

Ingredients
2 3/4 cups (200 g) sliced blanched almonds
1/3 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (100 g) sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup, lightly packed (50 g) candied cherries, chopped fine
1/4 cup (50 g) candied orange peel, chopped fine [note: I omitted the cherries and used 100 g total candied orange peel; this is the recipe I’ve used for years.]
1/3 cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
8 ounces (250 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. Toast the sliced almonds by spreading them on a baking sheet, then putting them in the preheated oven. Stir them once or twice, until lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the cream, butter, sugar, and honey over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is melted and comes to a boil. With a candy thermometer in the mixture, boil without stirring for about 3 minutes, until the mixture comes to a temperature of about 230ºF (120ºC), or until it forms a soft ball when a small amount is dropped into a cup of ice water. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in the toasted almonds and chopped fruit, then stir in the flour until blended.
  5. Pour the mixture into a buttered 9-inch (23-cm) square baking ban and set aside to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least an hour (overnight is fine).
  6. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).
  7. Butter a 12-well muffin tin (or two tins, if you have them). Scoop up a tablespoon of the mixture and press it into the bottom of a well to spread it evenly and thinly (you may need to use more or less of the mixture to get the thickness of the cookie you want, depending on the size of the wells). Repeat to fill the muffin tins, or until you run out of the mixture. (Tip: If the mixture is lumpy, butter the bottom of a glass or other smooth object that has a slightly smaller diameter than the well, then use it to press down on the mixture to help it spread evenly.)
  8. Bake the cookies until they are golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool in the pan for about 4 minutes (here’s another opportunity to flatten the cookies while the mixture is warm; use the same buttered glass as mentioned above).
  9. While the florentines are still warm, gently coax them out of the pan with a spatula (I used an offset icing spatula) and transfer to a wire rack covered with parchment paper or a silpat. If necessary, gently reshape the cookies into circles while they are still warm.
  10. If you have any unbaked mixture left, repeat the well-filling and cookie-baking process until all the mixture is used.
  11. When the florentines are completely cooled, melt the chocolate over hot water until just smooth but not too hot. With a spatula, spread the smooth bottom of each florentine evenly with chocolate, then place the florentine back on the parchment paper/silpat, chocolate side up, to cool. If you like, use a pastry comb or fork to trace a pattern in the chocolate before it becomes firm.

Stored in an airtight container, florentines will keep for about two weeks.
~~~~~~~~
To see the round up of the group’s international dessert recipes, visit the My Kitchen My World (MKMW) site. (You can also see where the group has already traveled.) To join in, just make a dish (or more) for the month’s country, blog about it, and put a link to your post in the comments on the MKMW page.

Next month, we travel to Poland, my choice! (We were supposed to go in November, but most of us got a bit busy…)

52 Photos ~ Dessert

Pumpkin pie shells

Pumpkin pies

Teeny tiny pumpkin pies

Recipe

Declare a day of gluttony.
Chill the Western hemisphere.
Over a base of granite, soil, clay,
wheat and corn fields, drizzle
rivers.
Lay down thick, black ribbons
of tar and concrete
from one ocean to the other.
Reread the recipe.
Assemble all ingredients
in a four-wheeled box.
Agitate steadily for a day.
Liberally distribute
nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs.
Periodically, open the doors,
to allow in the chilled air,
wind, exhaust, light,
sounds of gravel.
Be quiet.
When golden, remove
and let warm in the kitchen.
Share the crumbs, too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

You can find the recipe for the really delicious molasses-spice pumpkin pie filling I used here.