F is for Florentines

Florentines.  A couple of weeks ago I had no idea what they were so I'll start by describing what they are for those of you who need Florentine enlightenment.  

They are an aptly named Italian biscuit which originated in Florence, Italy.  They are chewy, nutty, fruity little biscuits which are finished with a layer of chocolate.  The biscuit mix is made from melting sugar, butter & golden syrup together & then adding flour, nuts & dried fruit.  The best part is the chocolate of course!  I have never liked dried fruit...all that mixed peel stuff & glace cherries.  Yuk.  Can't stand fruitcake or Christmas cake for that reason.  BUT... I really like Florentines because for me, the chocolate coating camouflages all of the fruity bits & the biscuit is chewy & crunchy with a caramel flavour.  Have I convinced you to try making these yet? Go on!

Who better to turn to for a recipe than Mary Berry - timely, given the start of Series 3 of The Great British Bake Off.  The recipe for Florentines is in Mary Berry's Baking Bible at pg 216.  One of the tips that Mary gives for this recipe - & I couldn't agree more, is to make sure your ingredients are measured exactly to the recipe.  Another tip - use a VERY well greased baking tray or use baking paper sprayed again with some cooking spray - just to be sure the biscuits don't stick.

On to the recipe! 


50g butter
50g demerara sugar
50g golden syrup
50g plain flour
4 red glace cherries finely chopped
50g candied peel (or as I found in my supermarket - mixed peel)
50g finely chopped mixed almonds & walnuts
175g chocolate (up to you whether you use milk or dark, I can vouch that Lindt 70% dark chocolate is very good with these biscuits!)

What to do...
  1. As always, heat your oven to 180C or if using fan bake, to 160C
  2. Line 3 baking trays with non-stick baking paper & just for good measure, spray lightly with some cooking spray... OR if you don't have baking paper, spray the trays generously with cooking spray.  These suckers will easily stick to the tray unless it is well greased!
  3. Place butter, sugar & golden syrup into a small saucepan & gently heat until butter has melted.
  4. Remove from heat & add flour, chopped cherries, candied peel & nuts.  Stir well to combine.
  5. Spoon teaspoonfuls of mixture onto the trays making sure you leave some room for spreading.  To give you a rough idea... my trays are about 25cmx40cm & I placed 6 teaspoonfuls on each tray..
  6. Bake for 8-10 mins or until golden brown.  Leave Florentines to cool slightly before gently lifting them onto a cooling rack with a palate knife.  If you have used a greased tray with no baking paper, allow Florentines to harden for a couple of minutes before you lift them. 
  7. Once Florentines have cooled completely, the best part is spreading the melted chocolate on one side!  Now - when it comes to melting chocolate, I always use the microwave BUT... I watch the chocolate very carefully, stir it often & only give it short bursts of 40 seconds or so.  As long as you are careful, you won't have any problems with the chocolate burning.  I never have!
  8. Break the chocolate into pieces & microwave until melted (stir stir stir in between short bursts!!)
  9. Spread a thin layer of chocolate on the flat base of each Florentine & then leave to set, chocolate side up on a cooling rack.
Florentines are best stored in an airtight container. 

So that's it!  Easy peasy.  Another one of Mary's tips, when you get around to lifting the Florentines off the trays after they have come out of the oven, if they set too much & are difficult to remove from the tray in one piece, pop them back in the oven for a minute or so to allow them to soften up again.



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