Gluten Free Florentine Cookies Recipe
There is a lot I love about these Gluten Free Florentine Cookies and one thing that sort of droves me a little crazy. Aside from being divinely decadent, this is a naturally gluten free recipe, pretty quick and simple to make and all the ingredients are easy to find in a regular grocery store.
With their burnished brown and copper tones studded with bright pops of ruby red, they remind me of an antique jewelry box filled with precious jewels. They are, for the most part, quite lovely to look at. Which brings me to the one thing about this recipe that I struggled with.
These cookies have a tendency to spread out when baking, any which way they want. Not really a bad thing, it’s what they are supposed to do. So why does it bother me a bit? Because I can’t control the way the final cookies look. I can’t make them perfectly round and identical in appearance. And believe me, I have tried! I made this recipe countless times over the past few days, trying every way I could think of to harness and control the spreading; I tried baking them in muffin pans and silicone baking liners, I tried corralling the baked cookies with a cookie cutter and on and on and on. My husband was delighted with my frustration, as it meant he got to enjoy all the “flops”. And ENJOY he did!!
I have been told I am a perfectionist. I used to think that was a compliment but it turns out complimenting me was not the intention of the people saying it. I don’t think I am a perfectionist. I wish I was a perfectionist. What that says about me is a subject for another day…
In the end, I had to let go – let the cookies do what they do and learn to appreciate the irregular beauty. “There are no two snowflakes or roses exactly the same” I told myself. “Let it go!” And so I did!
This recipe is so far removed from my original Florentine Cookie recipe it almost deserves a new name. For one thing, I left out the flour completely making them grain free. If I can find a way to make a gluten free recipe without flour, I will. My original recipe had a ton of butter; I cut back the amount and made it with Earth Balance instead for a dairy free cookie. Instead of sugar, I used honey thus cutting back on the refined sugar. Since candied fruits are hard to find for me any time except the winter holidays, I used maraschino cherries and fresh orange zest instead. Finally, the original recipe called for the cookies to be dipped in chocolate – now, while I will be the first to admit that adding chocolate to just about anything is never a bad idea, I felt that the chocolate masked the caramelly, fruity, nutty flavor of the cookies.
I have stopped obsessing over how to make these cookies conform to my idea of what they SHOULD look like and am appreciating them for what they do look like – a bit wild, a bit recalcitrant, free, lovely and (in their own way) perfect!
Gluten Free Florentine Cookies Recipe
- 4 tablespoons dairy free butter substitute (such as Earth Balance)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 12 maraschino cherries , stems removed, patted dry and quartered
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- Zest of 1 large orange , finely grated
- 2 tablespoons rice milk (or other dairy free milk)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheet with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.
- Heat the butter substitute over low heat in a large saucepan. Add the honey, increase the heat to medium-high and add the cherries, pine nuts, almonds and orange zest. Bring to a boil stirring to coat all the ingredients. Add the rice milk and continue to boil, stirring, until all the additional liquid has reduced and the mixture starts to hold together.
- Place well-spaced tablespoons of the mixture on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool in a dry place on the baking sheets until they become crisp. Carefully peel the cookies off the baking mats or parchment paper.
- Store cookies in a cool, dry place – humidity will make them sticky.
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