You can bake lovely, flat Florentines using parchment paper to line the trays, but using a silicone-coated liner is far better and you can find them at most kitchenware stores. These cookies are impressive, crunchy and chocolatey and will leave your family and friends in awe at your baking abilities.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking tray with a silicone-coated liner.
Place the sliced almonds in a re-sealable bag and crush them a little using a rolling pin or even your hands. Set aside.
Place the sugar, honey and whipping cream in a small saucepot and bring up to a full boil while stirring, and continue to boil and stir until the mixture reaches 244°F (118°C) on a candy thermometer. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the almonds and transfer this to a bowl to cool for about 15 minutes.
Have a bowl of cool water on hand as well as a 2 ½-inch (65 mm) round cookie cutter. Drop small teaspoonfuls of the almond batter onto the prepared baking tray, leaving at least 3 to 4 inches (75-100 mm) between the spoonfuls to allow for spreading. With wet fingers, press down the almond batter a little. Bake the Florentines for about 12 minutes, until they have flattened and have browned evenly (you may find rotating the pans halfway through baking promotes even browning). Let the Florentines sit for 30 to 90 seconds to set a little (but not fully). Dip the cookie cutter in the cool water and press it into each cookie to cut a precise circle. Now allow the cookies to fully cool and use a palette knife to carefully lift them off the tray, carefully pulling away the trimmings. Repeat with the remaining batter (and keep the cookie trimming scraps – they make an excellent topping for ice cream, or stirred into a cheesecake batter.
Once the Florentines have fully cooled, prepare the chocolate for brushing on each. To temper the chocolate, you will need a marble board (or a granite or other stone countertop, or a stainless steel counter will also do). Place all of the chopped chocolate in a metal bowl and set this over a pot of barely simmering water (no bubbles visible), stirring gently until melted and the temperature reaches 113 to 122°F (45 to 50°C). Pour two thirds of the chocolate onto your marble surface and set bowl with the remaining chocolate off to the side on a towel (away from heat and not on the marble).
Using two putty knives, or a palette knife & bench scraper, spread out the chocolate into a thin layer and use your tools to push the chocolate back into the centre of the board, scarping your tools to clean them of the chocolate at each push. This action of moving the chocolate plus the cooling property of the marble will lower the temperature of the chocolate. Keep repeating this process or spreading and scraping in until a temperature of 81 to 82°F (27 to 28°C) is achieved.
Stir and check the temperature of your reserved chocolate – it should have cooled to about 104 to 113°F (40 to 45°C). Now add the marble-cooled chocolate back to the bowl and stir for about 30 seconds before checking the temperature – it should be between 88 to 90°F (31-32°C) and is now “tempered”. To double check, dip a piece of parchment into the chocolate and set on your marble – it should start setting within a minute or two.
Use a pastry brush to brush an even layer of the chocolate onto the back of each Florentine and place these on a parchment-lined baking tray** to set. Pop the tray in the fridge for 3-5 minutes, just for a final “cure” or set, but then remove to store the Florentines in a cool place, in an airtight container.
** As a decorative option, you can use cocoa butter transfer sheets (found at stores that carry cake decorating supplies) and place the chocolate brushed Florentine on the sheet. Chill the Florentines as above, then peel then off the transfer sheet, revealing a lovely, shiny design and store.
The Florentines will keep for up to a week.