Florentine Cookie Bars
These Florentine Cookie Bars combine all the wonderful flavors and textures of Florentine cookies with a buttery shortbread bar. It’s a great Christmas treat!
If you love Florentine cookies, prepare to enjoy them in another form: cookie bars!
Florentines have always been one of my favorite cookies because, really, when there are crunchy almonds, flavors of orange, dried fruit and honey, it’s bound to be amazing. There’s so much flavor!
Traditional florentines are a little bit finicky to make (and especially to shape), so I thought, why not take all of the components and flavors of a florentine cookie, and layer it on buttery, rich shortbread?
It turned out fantastic.
Most of the time, I use unsalted butter for my baking recipes so that I can control the salt, but shortbread is an exception (you’ll see the same in my Shortbread Cookies recipe).
For this recipe I’m using salted butter, and the reason is that I prefer not to have big granules of salt distributed throughout shortbread.
For things like Chocolate Chip Cookies or Peanut Butter Cookies, it’s great to have little pops of salt, but for a smooth, buttery shortbread experience, we’re going to use salted butter so the seasoning is evenly distributed.
How to Make Florentine Cookie Bars:
To get started, place two sticks of salted butter and a 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl.
Cream them together until fluffy, then add vanilla extract.
Mix in flour until it is distributed (the dough will look crumbly, don’t worry).
Despite its crumbly appearance, the dough should hold together when squished in your hand.
Press the shortbread into an 8×12 pan with your fingertips. (This recipe will also work in a 9×13 pan too.)
Bake the shortbread in a 350 degrees F oven, and in the meantime, start the topping.
Combine salted butter, sugar, heavy cream and honey in a saucepan.
Cook this mixture until it reaches 250 F.
Add dried cherries, almonds, and orange zest.
Stir it all together and immediately spread it evenly on top of the shortbread.
Bake for another 20 minutes until the cherries are plump.
Let the Florentine cookie bars cool completely, then cut into squares and serve.
And then there’s Cut Out Cookies if you want to do some decorating. Enjoy!
Florentine Cookie Bars
For the shortbread base
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
For the topping
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup blanched sliced almonds
- 1 cup dried cherries* chopped
- zest of 1 orange
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- To make the shortbread base, place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together by whipping on medium-high speed for 60 seconds. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour to the bowl and mix at medium speed until the flour is distributed, about 60 seconds. The dough will look crumbly, but should hold together when pressed with your fingers.
- Press the shortbread dough into a 8×12 inch pan with your fingertips, then bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. (You can also use a 9×13 pan, with slightly less baking time.)
- While the shortbread bakes, make the topping. In a large saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, heavy cream and honey. Place over medium-high heat and cook it until it reaches 250° F on a candy thermometer. While cooking, do not stir the mixture, because this could cause crystallization. Once the mixture has reached the proper temperature, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the almonds, cherries and orange zest. Immediately spread this mixture evenly over the top of the shortbread.
- Bake for 20 minutes (or slightly less time for a larger pan) until the cherries are plump. Let the pan cool completely, then cut into bars and serve!
Post updated in December 2018. Originally posted December 2014.