These Florentine Cookie Bars bring all the wonderful flavors of Florentine cookies to an easier shortbread bar form!
For the shortbread base
For the topping
1cupblanched sliced almonds
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!