What follows is a stylized snippet of the water cooler conversation that ensued when R. brought in a Tupperware of florentines to work.
Taster 1, sizing up the florentines:
So she made a pan of the squares, then?
Taster 2, taking a first bite:
What're they called? Panda squares?
R.: No, I think they're actually called....
Taster 3, a belated entrant into the conversation:
These panda squares are good.
(or Panda Squares, as they're known around here)
Dust off your kitchen scales folks, this one's in metric.
150 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
95 grams icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
280 grams flour (or 250 grams flour + 30 grams ground almonds)
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt)
Cream the butter until soft and smooth. Mix in the icing sugar, vanilla and ground almonds (if using). Beat in the egg.
Add the flour and salt and mix by hand with a spoon, just until incorporated.
Form the dough into a rough disc, being careful not to handle it too much. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight. If you're in a rush, you can skip ahead to the next step. I won't tell.
220 grams sugar
125 grams water
2 teaspoons corn syrup
100 grams honey
115 grams butter, at room temperature
125 grams cream, warm
300 grams sliced almonds
Remove the pâte sucrée from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll the dough out into a 9x13-inch rectangle and transfer to a baking pan lined with parchment. Refrigerate for 15 minutes and then bake for 15 minutes (or until light brown). Remove from the oven.
Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and start preparing the topping.
In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the syrup is light amber in colour.
Remove from heat and add the honey, cream and butter. Stir just until the butter melts, then cook the caramel topping until the mixture reaches 255 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove from heat and quickly stir in the almonds until evenly coated. Immediately spread the caramel over the warm pastry crust with a wooden spoon.
Return the baking pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes (or until the top bubbles). Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
When cold, run a knife around the edge of the baking sheet. Slide the bar onto a work surface and cut as you like. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Source: Les florentins de mon arrière grand-mère at Foodbeam.
Casual Baker Notes: Lacking Fanny's eye for presentation, I cut the finished bars in fingers instead of rounds.
Labels: Bars and squares