Monday, June 27, 2011

'F' is for florentines

One of the very first times I spent with John involved florentines. 

It was a beautifully sunny April afternoon, which we had spent with a group of people on the Bristol Downs. I think I had been running that morning, and had an insufficient lunch, so I was rather peckish. 

All five of us popped into a little cafe beside the Downs to stave off hunger and quench our thirst. I was far more intereted in the cake than anyone else was, but I didn't mind, I needed food & that was my main objective. The trouble was, there were too many types of cake to choose from. I settled with my default option of chocolate cake. The thought did cross my mind that maybe I should offer to share my cake, but I am ashamed to admit that I kept it all for myself. I was still super hungry after my cake, and wondered out loud whether I should have a second cake. John jumped in & suggested we could share, and we both agreed that the florentine looked seriously appetising. It was huge, and delicious, and my first ever taste of florentine. I tried to use my sugar-skills to work out the ingredients list, and determined to try & make some.

Fast forward two years to last weekend, and I find myself eating florentines with John again. This time, made by our lovely friend Becky. I had forgotten how delicious they are. How could I have let two whole years go by before trying to make them myself? Well, on Saturday, I decided it was high time to remedy the situation. 

I had found a recipe by accident when looking for my cranberry & white chocolate recipe, & was delighted to see that condensed milk was required - a firm favourite baking ingredient in my kitchen. I went out and bought an orange the size of a newborn baby's head, ready to make candied peel, along with the other ingredients I requitred.

Then, I discovered that it takes about five whole hours to make candied peel, so I scrapped that idea and bought it instead. 

My overall verdict was that they had a different flavour to Becky's, and I put a little too much mixture in each one, so they didn't end up flat & skinny looking, but tasty all the same. 

Florentines: makes approx. 30
200g / ml condensed milk
50g unsalted butter
50g brown sugar
4tbsp plain flour
{300g dried mixed fruit. I used the following combination:}
65g candied peel
65g desiccated coconut
70g dried cranberries
30g chopped unsalted pistachios
70g sultanas

I doubled the original quantities to use up my condensed milk, so you could very easily halve the ingredients for a smaller batch.
1. Preheat oven to 180C / Gas mark 4. Grease the bases of a muffin tray or 2 if you have them.
2. Melt the butter & sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat.
3. Stir in the condensed milk & heat until bubbles start to form.
4. Remove from heat, sieve in the flour & whisk by hand to get rid of lumps.
5. Stir in your chosen selection of dried fruit.
6. Place a teaspoon of mixture into each hole of muffin tray, or onto baking parchment if you don't have a muffin tray.
7. Bake for about 12 mins until they go golden around the edges. Remove from oven & leave to cool in trays.
8. Melt 100g of dark chocolate and spread over the bottom of each florentine. When the chocolate is almost set, pull a fork over the chocolate for decorative effect.
9. Keep them to yourself to enjoy, or share with friends!

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