Gluten-free sesame florentines

A new take on the traditional Italian cookie

Unlike many cookies, which consist mostly of butter, sugar, and white flour, these delicate Florentines are composed almost entirely of nuts and seeds, strung together by the thinnest layer of caramel, and with gluten-free flour. New York City–based recipe developer Sarah Jampel recommends painting dark chocolate on the smooth side of each Florentine, and then sprinkling it with a little flaky sea salt. “These cookies are easy to customize,” she says. “If you don’t want to use 100% sesame seeds, feel free to swap in an equal weight of chopped, toasted nuts.” If you prefer lemon or grapefruit zest to orange, Jampel adds, you can use those flavors instead. For a different presentation, roll the cookies into cigar-shaped cylinders while they’re still warm.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Makes about 30 cookies

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Photography and styling by Jenny Huang


1/2 cup white sesame seeds
1/2 cup black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
3 tablespoons gluten-free oat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of ½ orange
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream (or coconut cream, if you prefer)
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (optional)
Flaky salt, for sprinkling (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine white and black sesame seeds, cocoa nibs, flour, and salt in a medium heat-proof bowl, and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the orange zest, sugar, cream, honey, and butter until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook, without stirring, for an additional three to five minutes, until the sugar has completely dissolved, the mixture is thickened, and the bubbles have slowed. If you have a thermometer, you’re aiming for between 235 and 245 degrees F. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the hot sugar mixture over the flour mixture and stir to combine. Set aside to cool, five to 10 minutes.
Scoop the dough into rounded teaspoons on prepared baking sheets, about 3 to 4 inches apart (they will spread while baking). With damp hands, gently roll the lumps of batter into round balls and flatten slightly.
Bake 10 to 11 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cookies have spread and turned a golden caramel color. Watch closely during the last few minutes—they can easily turn from caramelized to burned.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then, using a small offset spatula, release them from the parchment paper and transfer to a rack to cool completely. If the cookies are sticky and difficult to remove from the parchment paper, they’re underdone, and should return to the oven for one to two minutes.
If coating the cookies in chocolate, melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Use a small spatula to paint a thin layer of chocolate on the smooth side of the cookies, then sprinkle with flaky salt and leave to set, chocolate-side up. (Speed up the process by transferring the cookies to the refrigerator.) Store cookies in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one month (this will help preserve their crisp texture). Allow to come to room temperature before serving.