Tuesday, 7 January 2014


Florentines may well be a festive favourite, but are far too good to enjoy just over Christmas. Sweet, chewy and studded with little jewels of candied or dried fruit they really feel like a treat, which is what baking for me is all about. I've kept things relatively simple with this recipe, but there is lots of room for experimentation. Fresh or candied citrus zest, sour cherries, even stem ginger or angelica (if you can find it) all would work beautifully as well as different types of chocolate. Just have a go and see what works for you. At the very least it'll be a good excuse to make them again and again!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 15 Mins
20g Unsalted Butter
50g Golden Caster Sugar
1/2tbsp Plain Flour
50ml Double Cream
75g Flaked Almonds
35g Raisins
35g Glace Cherries (Chopped)
100g Dark Chocolate

Before we begin a point of note. When making the caramel mixture it is important to recognise that each of the individual components can burn rather quickly, so try to make sure you keep the mixture moving and the heat as low as you can, throughout all stages.

With that in mind, let us retire to the kitchen once more! Add the butter and sugar to a small saucepan and place on a very low heat. Stir constantly, then when the butter and sugar have melted together add the flour. Continue stirring until the flour has dissolved completely, then slowly pour in the cream, keeping the mixture moving all of the time. When the you have a light golden, silky mixture add the nuts, raisins and cherries, mix them around until evenly combined, then remove from the heat. At the same time preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

After the mixture has cooled for around 10-15 minutes the Florentines are ready to be prepared for baking. You should get about 8 Florentines from this quantity of mixture and I bake them four per sheet, as they do spread somewhat in the oven. So line two flat baking sheets with baking paper please! Take about 2tsp of the mixture and dollop into a little tightly packed pile on the baking paper. Repeat for the rest of the mixture, making sure your dollops are well spaced apart. Gently flatten the top of each dollop with the back of the teaspoon, then bake in the centre of the oven for around 15 minutes, until each Florentine has spread, is a light golden in the centre and just darkening at the edges. When you are happy they are baked remove from the oven. At this stage I do something that may seem somewhat controversial. Using a flat bladed knifed I gently ease the edges of each spread Florentine in a little. I think this both helps compact the mixture at the edges and allows you to shape them into lovely rounds. Following this, leave the Florentines on their trays for around 15 minutes to harden, then very carefully peel each from the paper and place on a wire rack.

When the Florentines have cooled you can finish them off. Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie or in the microwave (if you are confident with your timings), then set to one side for a few minutes to cool slightly. Upturn each Florentine, so the flat side is facing up, then brush each with the melted Chocolate. You can use as much or as little of the chocolate as you see fit and add your own patterns of designs to the base depending on how artistic you are feeling at that moment. Leave the melted chocolate to set and they are then ready to be enjoyed. Over to you!

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