What Is a Florentine Biscuit, and How are These Delicate Cookies Made?

Channel your inner Great British Bake Off contestant and make florentine cookies at home with our expert tips and recipes.

They're crispy, slightly chewy, and have a buttery-caramel flavor. Florentine cookies are a delicious addition to any holiday cookie spread.

Until a few days ago, I'd never had a Florentine cookie that wasn't store-bought. Then I saw an episode of The Great British Bake Off that featured Florentine cookies as the signature challenge during "Biscuit Week." Watching the bakers create those delicate Florentine cookies (the British call them Florentine biscuits) looked difficult, yet I was intrigued by the process.

Turns out, fans of the show were also curious. In addition to "florentine cookie," terms like "florentine biscuit" and "what is a florentine biscuit" gained a lot of traction (+1000% for some) in Google Trends after the episode. Read on for more information about Florentine cookies and tips on making Florentines from my own trial run.

lacy florentine cookies
Katlyn Moncada

What Is a Florentine Biscuit (or Cookie)?

Florentine cookies are thin, crispy cookies made from a base of nuts (usually almonds or hazelnuts), fruits such as cherries and citrus, melted butter, and cream. These are combined to create a candy-like base that's then baked. Once cool, Florentines are dipped or drizzled with melted chocolate for a finishing touch. Based on the ingredients used to make them, Florentine cookies probably didn't originate in Florence, Italy, as you might think. Instead, it's more likely the cookies were created in France and named for the gold coins of Florence that were the standard currency of Europe for hundreds of years.

How to Make Florentine Cookies

I used our BH&G recipe for lacy Florentines to make homemade florentine cookies. They're pretty close to most of the classic Florentine cookie recipes I could find, but you can use this recipe by Mary Berry if you want to ensure a more authentic take. Or try British Bake Off contestant Lottie's Florentine cookies, which earned a coveted Paul Hollywood handshake (a true mark of approval by the celebrity chef judge).

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two to three large baking sheets with foil (lightly greased), parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a medium saucepan ($20, Bed Bath & Beyond) over low heat, combine butter, sugar, cream, and honey. Cook and stir over low until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
  3. Increase heat and bring mixture to boiling. Stir constantly and push down the mixture on the sides to prevent sugar from crystallizing. Clip a candy thermometer ($11, Target) to the side of the pan and cook until it reaches 238°F (soft-ball stage).
  4. Quickly add oats, nuts, flour, lemon peel, and crystallized ginger (or dried fruit). Stir to combine.
  5. Drop dough by tablespoons 3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Dip tines of a fork (or the back of spoon) into cold water and lightly press each cookie to flatten and make it even. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown and set. Switch cookie sheets halfway if baking two at the same time.
  6. Cool completely and drizzle with melted chocolate. Allow chocolate to set and enjoy.

Tips for Making Florentine Cookies

I love to bake but to be completely honest, making Florentines was no simple task. Here are some tips I can offer if it's your first time baking these crispy cookies.

  • Florentine cookies spread! Allow plenty of space on your cookie sheets. My first sheet spread into one giant cookie (which I still enjoyed by just breaking into pieces). I recommend making just six cookies per baking sheet.
  • I found using a light spritz of nonstick cooking spray on aluminum foil spread with a paper towel worked the best for greasing my pan.
  • Keep a close eye on your cookies while they bake. You definitely want them to be firm and have the perfect amount of snap, but overbaked Florentines will be too brittle.
  • If your cookies spread a little too much, use a biscuit cutter or circle cookie cutter to gently shape the Florentines evenly while they're still warm.

You might be a classic chewy cookie type of person (myself included), and that's totally OK. However, if you're a toffee candy and chocolate fan, you'll thoroughly enjoy these thin and crunchy Florentine cookies. So, after you've had your crisp, buttery cookie fix, continue baking more of your favorite cookie recipes.

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