I’d waited an entire lifetime to walk the streets of Florence, Italy.
Last November, my husband and I finally got on a plane and flew 7 straight hours across the mighty Atlantic to the other side. To make the trip even more exciting, we were there celebrating our 10th year wedding anniversary, and it was my husband’s 40th birthday the day we arrived in Rome!
From Rome, we took the high-speed train on a 2-½ hour trek north through the countryside. Upon arrival, we backpacked our way through the city, deliberately avoiding cabs to truly experience all that was around us. A few glorious miles later, we checked into a beautiful roof-top suite at the Grand Amore Hotel and Spa in the heart of Florence.
After getting settled in, and taking a minute to understand European bathroom facilities, we were out the door with a prepared list of everything we wanted to explore. First stop, of course, was a leisurely and scrumptious lunch with a bottle wine at a truly authentic Italian Trattoria.
Second stop, and close to our hotel, was the magnificent structure called “The Duomo”. If you turn your computer on and Google “Florence, Italy”, I can assure you that a photo of this extraordinary building will pop up on your screen.
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (nicknamed the Duomo after the enormous octagonal dome on its east end) is the cathedral of Florence, Italy — and, arguably, the birthplace of the Renaissance. It’s beautiful in photos. When you see it in person, it takes your breath away.
Walk with me a little further — just around the corner from the almost 90,000 square foot Duomo and we stumble upon another treasure (much smaller in size and grandeur) that sits among the many shops that line the brick-paver alleyways.
As I happily prance down the street, belly full of fresh truffles, pasta and Chianti – and now sporting a gelato in one hand and cappuccino in the other – my eye caught the glare of sunbeams bouncing off of the building across the street, illuminating glass shelves packed with homemade sweets.
As I gravitated towards the window, I couldn’t believe the bountiful display of beautifully wrapped gifts and homemade candy, cakes, and cookies awaiting the next sweet-toothed traveler. As much as I love to create my own version of these things, I was like a kid in a candy store. Wait…I WAS the kid in a candy store!
There was one particular treat that stood out and I had to try — the famous Florentine Cookie. It is said that this cookie originated in Florence, Italy during the the Renaissance period, too. Maybe that’s why I think of the Duomo every time I think of these cookies? It’s fun to wonder about what connects us with our memories.
Nonetheless, it seems to me like the perfect memory to share with you. With great pleasure, I bring you my version of this recipe. Traditionally, Florentine Cookies are made with almonds. My recipe calls for oatmeal in lieu of almonds. The cookies are lacy and crisp and taste like toffee – delicious, and they smell wonderful. The dark melted chocolate sandwiched in the middle turns this great cookie into something undeniably perfect.
Enjoy the cookies. And book your trip to Italy as soon as possible. Life is short…go see some greatness.
Recipe: Duomo Dark Chocolate Florentine Lace Cookies
- 2/3 cup melted butter
- 2 Cups uncooked Instant Oatmeal
- 1 Cup sugar
- 2/3 Cup flour
- 1/4 Cup dark corn syrup
- 1/4 Cup whole milk
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 Teaspoon salt
- 2 cups Dark Chocolate Morsels
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Line cookie sheet with parchment paper
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat
- Add instant oatmeal, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla extract and salt to the melted butter and mix well
- Using a small ice cream scoop, drop balls of cookie dough onto cookie sheet. Make sure they are at least 3” inches apart (cookies will spread as they bake)
- Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately after taking cookies out of the oven, take a metal spatula and lightly round the cookie by pushing around the edges to create a perfect circle. Try to make sets of two that are the same size. This helps cookies fit together better after adding chocolate and creating a sandwich. Set aside
- In a medium-sized saucepan, fill with water half-way and bring to a simmer. Pour dark chocolate chips into a heat-proof glass or metal bowl and set it on top of simmering water in sauce pan (you’ve just created your own double boiler!). Stir occasionally. As the chocolate chips melt, it will become easier to stir
- When chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat but let it rest on the pan of water to keep melted consistency
- Spread thin layer of melted chocolate onto flat side of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies to make sandwiches.
Makes about a dozen sandwich cookies
Tip from the New England Innkeeper
Melt the chocolate chips slowly on the stove top with the double boiler. This allows the chocolate chips to melt slowly and evenly over indirect heat.
Why eat dark chocolate? Dark chocolate has the potential to have the largest quantity of cocoa solids – at least to 70%. This means that 70% of the chocolate is from the cocoa bean and less from added sugars, oils and perhaps other fillers. Thus the antioxidants in the dark chocolate surpasses pecans (14% less) and red wine (25% less).