Here’s another Kiwi favourite to add to the ever-increasing list! The rather posh Florentine.
What is a Florentine? Apart from someone who lives in Florence, Italy, it’s a biscuit made up of a thin disc of crisp caramelized nuts and zesty fruits coated, on one side, with dark bitter-sweet chocolate on which you generally find a wavy pattern.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the origins of the Florentine hark back to Florence, though according to Honest Cooking, it’s more likely they hail from France.
Wherever they came from and however ‘retro’ they may be, Florentines are an established cafe favourite down here in New Zealand. But, as much as I love them, I never thought I’d bother making them – they always looked a bit tricky. Then I saw them being made on ‘The Great British Bake-off’ and thought, ‘If they can all make them, so can I’. So, I found Ms Mary Berry’s recipe (on BBC Food) and proved to myself, yet again, that some things just look more difficult than they really are.
Ideally, you should temper the chocolate so that it remains nice and glossy. However, the day I made these we had over 30 degree heat (86 degrees to my American friends) and there was no way my chocolate was going to cool to 26 degrees as per the recipe. So, I just melted the chocolate normally and kept the biscuits in the fridge so the chocolate wouldn’t melt. And, that’s how I discovered they were DIVINE straight out of the fridge!
So… if you’re wanting to serve your friends or family something that’s a cut above your usual array of boring old bickies and makes you look like you really know what you’re doing(!), go no further. Oh, and did I mention that these are gluten-free? Enjoy!
- 50g (1-3/4 oz) unsalted butter
- Pinch of salt
- 50g (1-3/4 oz) demerara sugar
- 50g (1-3/4 oz) golden syrup
- 50g (1-3/4 oz) plain flour (I used gluten-free flour)
- 25g (1 oz) dried cranberries or glacé cherries, finely chopped (I used dried sour cherries)
- 50g (1-3/4 oz) candied peel, finely chopped
- 25g (1 oz) almonds, finely chopped
- 25g (1 oz) walnut pieces, finely chopped
- 200g (7 oz) plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line three baking trays with baking parchment or silicon sheets.
- Measure the butter, salt, sugar and syrup into a small pan and heat gently until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour, chopped cranberries or cherries, candied peel and nuts to the pan. Stir well to mix.
- Make 18 florentines by spooning six teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to each of the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of room for them to spread during cooking. (I found it best to slightly flatten each mound with the back of a teaspoon).
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden-brown (the mixture will go lacy as it cooks and the outer edges will brown a little).
- Leave the florentines to cool completely (as they are very delicate and will easily break while still warm) before lifting onto a cooling rack using a palette knife - they should lift off very easily once cooled.
- Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, without letting the bowl touch the water. Temper the chocolate by breaking half of the chocolate into the bowl. Stir until the chocolate reaches a melting temperature of 53C/127F. Meanwhile, finely chop or grate the remaining chocolate.
- Carefully remove the bowl from the pan, add the rest of the chocolate and stir gently until the chocolate has cooled to 26C/79F (this low temperature ensures the chocolate will be easier to spread onto the back of the cookie, and won't leak through to the other side).
- Using a small spatula, spread a little melted chocolate over the flat base of each florentine. (Don't be too stingy with your chocolate layer - make it reasonably thick so that you can work back into it with your fork later. And, keep some paper towels handy as it's pretty messy).
- Leave the chocolate to cool slightly (I waited for about 10 minutes), then using the tines of a fork, create zigzag lines in the chocolate. Leave to set, chocolate side up on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container, or in the fridge.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting