December 18, 2013

Third place: White Christmas Cherry-Pistachio Florentines by Jessie Grearson of Falmouth

White Christmas Cherry-Pistachio Florentines, Jessie Grearson, Falmouth

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White Christmas Cherry-Pistachio Florentines by Jessie Grearson

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Jessie Grearson of Falmouth with her White Christmas Cherry-Pistachio Florentines.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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The judges were quite impressed with Grearson’s entry, which is a kind of lace cookie.

Sometimes humidity can affect these cookies, and they become chewy.

“I was expecting it to be chewy, and it wasn’t at all,” Lopez said. “It was nice and crispy, beautifully caramelized. It was beautiful.”

They also liked that she didn’t overdo the topping.

Here’s what Grearson, a freelance writer and writing teacher, had to say about her White Christmas Cherry-Pistachio Florentines:

“When I was growing up, I’d visit my grandmother and sit on the counter while she made her famous lace cookies. Nana’s beloved cookies looked like these, but were made with margarine and oats. She sold bags of them at the Women’s Exchange for ‘pin money.’ Everyone loved them, but few could make them without becoming frustrated at their delicate nature. I still have one of her cookie sheets, reserved for making her lace cookies.

“Over the years I’ve experimented with a variety of lace cookies; this version is extremely simple and not as hard to handle as Nana’s were (especially if you use parchment paper). Now I have my own daughters and we enjoy adding the festive cherry and pistachio red and green for Christmas; gilding the lily, really, as these are delicious plain. Be sure to use high-quality honey, as that’s what you taste as these melt on your tongue.

“Even though this isn’t Nana’s exact recipe, I think of her when I make these and their buttery smell fills my kitchen.”

Makes about 30 to 40 very thin cookies, depending on size of the florentines and how much your kids taste the batter. These look elegant and complex but are very simple – if you use parchment paper and are patient enough to let them cool.

The drizzled white chocolate shows off the finely chopped green pistachios and red cherries, and the honey-butter taste of the cookies is like caramel.

For cookies:

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons good quality honey

4 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

For decorative topping:

2 tablespoons dried cherries, chopped in a mini food prep

2 tablespoons shelled salted pistachios, chopped in a mini food prep

½ cup good quality white chocolate

Preheat oven to 375.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together butter, sugar and honey until butter is completely melted. Stir in flour until well mixed.

Remove from heat and add vanilla. Dough will be very wet.

Drop evenly sized and spaced half-teaspoonfuls (don’t be generous or you’ll get a mono-cookie!) of mixture onto flat cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving 2 to 3 inches between. Bake about 5 to 6 minutes on center rack in oven, until bubbly and a light but even caramel brown.

When cool, gently slide cookies from their spots before removing to a rack.

Melt white chocolate (you may add a tiny bit of shortening for easier decorating) over simmering water or in microwave. Drizzle or pipe melted chocolate onto cookies. Quickly add pinches of green chopped pistachios and finely chopped red cherry on top of drizzled chocolate and let set.

Recipe is easily doubled but Grearson likes to make small batches multiple times. Cookies are also delicious plain, or drizzled with dark chocolate.,

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