Tuesday, 22 January 2013


These dainty, pretty little treats don't really communicate the journey that I traveled in their production. Florentines are sweet and lady-like and conjure up images of 'tea-time' and lace gloves...in me anyway.
But lady-like and dainty was not the sort of day I was having when I made them. It was one of those days when all was going wrong, not in a major disaster, soup-all-over-the-walls type fashion, just in a oh-I-miscalculated-the water-that's-why-the-marmalade-isn't-setting-oh-great-apparently-you-can't-substitute-butter-for-suet-my-sponge-is-all-wrong-ah-so-that's-what-happens-when-it's-too-hot sort of way.

A series of minor incidents which lead you believe that dressing them up in pretty pictures means that you're adding to the conning of all the people that believe that life really can be like the super-stylised photos that make Pinterest so addictive... usually I believe I can make it happen. But not on the Florentine day, there were no lace gloves in sight.

Some people argue that this idealised notion of life that we're subjected to constantly is badbadbad for us...but I'm not sure, it's fun to aspire...as long as you remember that even Martha Stewart has bad hair-days....and a million people around her whose specific job it is to make you jealous of her life.

So the Florentine day is over now and I'm currently sipping tea and have hairspray in my hair like a good wannabe lady and will most likely spend the rest of the day arranging flowers and holding out my little finger as a swoon through my life of pastels....at least in my head. With Love and Cake.

Adapted from Nigella's recipe in How to be a Domestic Goddess.

A few notes:
  • Nigella called for whole blanched almonds, chopped, but I took the easy route and used flaked; feel free to do either. In fact I was kind of blasé about following the stipulated ratio of the fruit as well, making up the whole amount of peel and cherries required with more cherries and less peel than Nig asks for....you do what you fancy, I know not everyone is a peel fan so cut it down or out if you like and replace with more cherries or perhaps another chopped nut.
  • I followed Nigella's lead and covered half my Florentines in dark chocolate and half in white; you do as you please.
Makes 30-ish
You will need

several baking sheets, greased

100g flaked almonds
90g mixed candied peel, chopped fairly small
40g glacé cherries, chopped fairly small
25g unsalted butter
90g caster sugar
15g plain flour
150ml double cream
100g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate

  • Preheat the oven to 190°c.
  • Mix together the nuts and fruit in a bowl.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the sugar.
  • Add the flour to the saucepan, which should leave you with a thick paste.
  • Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the cream.
  • Stir in the fruit and nut mix.
  • Drop heaped teaspoons of the mixture onto your baking sheets leaving plenty of space for each biscuit to spread out.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, by which point they should be bronzed round the edges and nice and thin.
  • Leave the Florentines to cool and firm on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes.
  • When the biscuits are robust enough to handle,  gently lift them off the baking sheet with a metal spatula or palette knife and leave them to cool completely on a wire wrack.
  • Melt the two types of chocolate separately, either in a bain Marie or in the microwave  and spread over the flat side of each Florentine; half the batch white, and half dark.
  • After a while, when the chocolate is starting to firm (this takes longer than you think, maybe a good 15 minutes), use the prongs of a fork to make wiggly lines in the chocolate...or don't. Feel proud either way.

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