Perhaps someone bought all the ingredients to make their Christmas Cake, left it too late and then thought ‘hmmm, why not make some biscuits instead?’ Or maybe a frugal cook decided that the left over almonds and cherries from Christmas baking would not be allowed to linger for months in the cupboard and in a moment of genius created Florentines. A quick google tells me there are claims to their origins in Austria, Paris and Florence, Italy with the latter of those being the most believable. However, I’m sticking with my frugal cook theory and by the way her name was Florentine.
Wherever they came from they are divine and perfect as a handmade Christmas gift. I still have almond essence that I bought by mistake last summer and adding a drop of this to the melted chocolate lifts the Christmassy flavour up another notch.
Makes 10 large or 20 small biscuits.
You Will Need:
200g total of mixed dried fruit, nuts (include a good portion of flaked and blanched almonds), seeds and berries.
(I used 70g pack of mixed dried fruit, nuts and seeds – available in SuperValu and includes cranberries +40g blanched almonds, 40g flaked almonds, 50g combination of dried apricots, glace cherries and candied peel)
50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
50g plain flour
1 heaped tbsp porridge oats
1 heaped tbsp golden syrup
150g chocolate (I used 70% cocoa content)
Drop almond essence (optional)
Preheat the oven to 190C / Gas Mark 5. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
Roughly chop all the fruit and nuts together.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and add the caster sugar and golden syrup and stir well.
Add in the porridge oats and flour and stir well.
Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in all the dried fruit and nuts.
Use a pastry cutter to shape a spoon of filling together on the baking tray and press down to firm it up.
Leave room between the biscuits as they will melt and spread a bit.
Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven when looking golden and starting to crisp at the edges.
Allow to cool on the tray for 2 minutes. (They will be soft at first but harden as they cool)
Transfer to a baking tray and allow to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (1.5 to 2 minutes).
Add a tiny drop of almond essence (optional) and stir well.
Turn the florentines upside down and use a teaspoon to coat the underside with melted chocolate.
Leave to cool for a few minutes and then use a fork to make swirly lines before leaving to set completely.
Til next time, Sheila.
Don’t worry, I’m not losing the run of myself here and turning fancy. These are just two of the things that came back with me from Dublin last weekend, well kind of. The truffle oil isn’t actually pure truffle oil but a very little bottle (55ml) of what was labeled ‘White Truffle Condiment in Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ so not a hugely extravagant purchase. I’m sure it will stay in the bottle for quite a while before I get around to using it eventually meanwhile I’m picturing risotto, white wine and mushrooms. I bought my truffle/olive oil in Harvey Nichols Foodmarket at Dundrum shopping centre and loved the experience. There aren’t too many places where you browse, don’t buy very much and are offered a glass of wine – Chablis – while you shop.
And what was I doing in Dublin? Well along with the purchases I was also stuffing my brain with terms like epub, smashwords, inkwell, quark, stitch bound, UV Glossed, A.I. (not, after all artificial insemination), createspace, shortrun (not exercise), prosumer, typeset, high res, spot gloss, running heads, drop cap etc. Yes, I’ve been on a publishing course. It was very worthwhile and I really enjoyed the day despite having to monitor my phone for updates on the 8 year old who’d fallen and broken his arm in my absence!
I don’t know if I should admit to this or not, but I had travelled up by train on Friday and on my return journey on Saturday evening the conductor looked at my ticket and directed me to a carriage on the left. When I arrived at the carriage the inspector there asked if I was on first class and when I said no he examined my ticket and said that actually yes I was! So be careful with your mouse out there when you’re booking online and in a hurry. Although I do think now it was fate as I hardly noticed when the ‘Munster’ fans boarded the train in Limerick for a jubilant return to Cork and was able to work away quietly undisturbed. I was putting some thoughts together for the Foodcamp event that’s part of Savour Kilkenny (www.savourkilkenny.com) on Friday of this week. I’m discussing the merits of breakfast cereals and in the name of research forced myself to revisit porridge this week, which with a good helping of stewed apples is quite delicious.
The Florentines (& some giant Avoca cookies for the kids) were a gift from my hosts and chauffeurs in Dublin. (Thanks so much Grainne & Louise). I don’t think I’d ever eaten a Florentine before and have since come across a recipe. They’re delicious and with the nuts and cherries perfect for (..dare I mention it..) Christmas.