I’m teaching a couple cooking classes for the Nutana Community Association here in Saskatoon in the upcoming months. (If you’re from around here, I would love to see you in the class. Once I’ve got the schedule firmed up and know where to register online I’ll share it with you.)
I’m really excited about teaching these classes for a few reasons. First, I love sharing gluten-free and vegan recipes with people. I love seeing their surprise when they actually enjoy what they’re eating. Another reason: I like talking. Ask Levi. I talk a lot. And my most favorite reason for being excited is that I actually miss people. I get to talk to you all online but it’s not the same as being in person. Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not a hermit or anything. It’s just not often that I get to nerd out over food and everyone listening actually wants to hear what I’m talking about. (I think/hope.)
My first class that I’m teaching will be an Italian-inspired pasta frenzy. I’m going to be sharing my recipe for Creamy Sundried Tomato, Artichoke & Spinach Penne and a zingy Caesar Salad (recipe adapted from Tal Ronnen’s recipe in The Conscious Cook) on the side. For dessert I wanted to do an Italian dessert and the first thing I could think of was gelato. I really wanted to do gelato. Except I have 2 1/2 hours with these folks and there’s just no way I’d get it done in time and without ice cream makers. So what else? I thought about biscotti but again, time was against me.
Then it dawned on me. Florentines! Making florentines would fit perfectly into the workflow for the evening. Brilliant!
Since I am doing a practice run of the entire length of the class I have had to make these again – and again. Levi has been very pleased with this.
I’ve baked them at different lengths of time and to be honest I really prefer my florentines just golden brown and still chewy at the center. You can bake yours longer and get them darker browned and crisp. Drizzling with melted chocolate is an optional extra that everybody loves.
These cookies spread out quite a lot on the baking sheet. Make sure you give these a lot of room between each other. Like at least 3 inches between dough balls. You’ll notice in the picture below that this batch didn’t turn out in perfect little circles because they ended up touching each other and I had to cut them. I still wanted to show you how beautifully lacy the cookies turn out so I’m sharing the imperfect square-ish cookies with you anyhow.
One of my favorite parts of this recipe is the citrus flavor that comes from the zest. I’ve used orange, grapefruit and lime zest at various times and honestly the grapefruit zest has got to be the one I loved the most. Don’t omit the zest unless you absolutely must, because I swear it makes these cookies even more spectacular.
The original recipe comes from Giada de Laurentiis. I like her. I made a few ingredient swaps to make it vegan and gluten-free and it turned out just great.
- 1¾ cup ground almonds (almond flour)
- 3 tablespoons brown rice flour
- 2 tablespoons citrus zest
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ cup organic cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
- 5 tablespoons vegan margarine
- ½ teaspoon high quality vanilla extract
- In a large bowl combine ground almonds, brown rice flour, citrus zest and sea salt.
- In a saucepan combine cane sugar, coconut milk, agave nectar and vegan margarine. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is at a full rolling boil, cook an additional 1 minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Pour over the ground almond mixture. Stir until just combined. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- After 30 minutes, measure out the cookie mixture by teaspoonfuls and roll into balls. The balls should be about 1" in diameter. Place them far apart from each other on the baking sheet - at least 3 or 4 inches as the cookies spread quite a lot.
- Bake in preheated oven with the rack positioned in the center of the oven, for 12-14 minutes. Turn the baking sheet around half way through. Towards the end of the baking time check frequently to ensure you're not over-baking or over-browning the cookies.
- Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet.
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