FOOD & DRINK / A-Z of Treats: Florentines

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F is for Florentine, sixth in our alphabet of indulgences reserved for high days and holidays. First a recipe that offers the exoticism of the real thing, then a party version.


Makes about 24 (depending on size)

3oz caster sugar

2oz chopped almonds

1oz flaked almonds

2oz candied peel

1oz angelica

1oz glace cherries, chopped

4oz double cream (or melted butter,

or half and half)

3-4oz plain chocolate

Preheat the oven to 335F/170C/Gas 3. Dust two buttered baking trays with flour, or cover them with non-stick baking paper (or make in several batches). Warm the butter and sugar in a saucepan, then stir in nuts and fruit and finally the cream (but reserve the chocolate).

With a teaspoon, place small blobs of the mixture on the baking sheets, allowing ample space for them to spread while cooking to a diameter of three inches or more.

Bake for 7-10 minutes (keep an eye on them and remove when lightly browned). Allow to cool slightly, and trim neatly if you like, then lift them while still warm and soft with a palette knife on to a wire tray to cool. Turn them upside down and brush with melted chocolate (melt it in a bain-marie or a double saucepan over an inch of simmering water).

This is an all-in-one party version from my sister-in-law Ruth, though not strictly a Florentine: 4oz caster sugar, 2oz melted butter, 2oz glace cherries, 2oz currants, 2oz chopped almonds (or desiccated coconut), 1 egg and 8oz plain chocolate. Mix together all the ingredients except the chocolate. Melt the chocolate (in a double boiler as above) and pour on to a buttered baking sheet or baking paper. Chill in the fridge for one hour. Spread the sweet mixture on top. Bake in a low oven at 300F/150C/Gas 2 for 30-40 minutes, or until light golden in colour. When cool, cut into squares (from 12-24).