Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Florentines -so easy, so elegant, so christmasy

Eating Florentines always makes me feel elegant and sophisticated - and frankly that's a very hard thing for me to achieve - so anything that makes me feel that way is always welcome!

I remember eating my first real florentine in a posh little tea rooms in Cheltenham Spa with some of my girl friends from college - we all had the afternoon off and decided to 'take tea' at this little tea house. I remember the leaded shop window being crammed full of simple glass cake stands piled high with large white meringues, iced square cakes and large (and I mean really large) florentines. This was all before meringues and cup cakes became 'popular and on-trend' so it was quite rare to find a tea shop with a display like this.......I can remember vowing I would find a recipe for these 'florentines' and learn to make my own. I didn't realise, then, that they were so easy to make and now, over the years, I have perfected my recipe and they have become a traditional Christmas biscuit to make.

Now, Andrew likes to take some of my biscuits and cakes to work to share around ....... this sounds really nice........ but it's so I don't 'pig out' on them when he's away and get fat........... However, one of his colleagues is on a gluten free diet and is unable to eat any of these treats -  I felt bad about that - then I remembered florentines - no flour - therefore, no gluten - ladies and gentlemen we have a winner!

So here's my version of Florentines - other versions are available but, in my opinion, this is the best

Ingredients to make about 20 Florentines

220g flaked Almonds
40g dried cranberries
100g icing sugar
2 egg whites
zest of 1 orange
bar white chocolate ( or any other chocolate you like)

Pre - heat oven to 150C /300F /Gas 2

Measure out your almonds and cranberries and place in a large mixing bowl...

Next sift in your icing sugar

and the zest of your orange - I haven't enhanced the colours in this photo the orange really was this bright!

now mix it all together making sure the sugar is evenly distributed and everything has a dusting of it - this makes it easier when you add your egg whites....

Separate your eggs and quickly give the whites a little whip with a fork - this helps to 'break up' the albumen making it easier to mix evenly into a dry mixture....

Now add you egg whites and stir thoroughly - be careful when you do this so you don't break up your almond flakes....

Now, place blobs of the mixture onto a non-stick baking tray, or use this fantastic silicon parchment stuff - it really does work! - you need to space the blobs out so there's room for you to flatten them into rounds.

A quick tip - use wet hands to pick up the blobs of mixture to stop them sticking to you ....

Using a wet fork, pat out the blobs of mixture into thin, lacey rounds - mine were about 8cm across - make sure you don't have any gaps but do get them as thin as possible.

Now pop them into your pre-heated oven for about 12 minutes - until they are starting to colour around the edges.

Lift out of the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking tray and then place them, gently, with a pallet knife onto a cooling rack - leave to cool completely...

Break your chocolate into a bowl and melt either in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water..

Turn your cooled florentines over so they are base up......

and spoon on your chocolate and smooth it over the base - use the back ot a teaspoon to do this it works better than a knife.

Wait for the chocolate to set and then they are done and ready to eat......

Apparently they will store well in an air tight jar ....... but I have never had to store them for long - too moreish!

Florentines make excellent Christmas gifts - they are so easy to make and look elegant presented in a glass jars with a ribbon.

Have an excellent and sophisticated Wednesday
Love Lizx