Lucy's Friendly Foods

To my mind, there is something very festive about Florentines, those crisp yet chewy caramelised almond cookies half coated in rich chocolate. I picture them on a side table, sitting near the beautifully decorated tree and a roaring open fire.

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Here, I’ve used a combination of oats and pumpkin seeds to replace the almonds, but you could just as easily use sunflower seeds, other grain flakes or even cornflakes. If you’re looking for a gluten-free version perhaps a combination of sunflower and pumpkin seeds would be nice? You just want something that’ll give a good chew once coated in caramel and then baked until crisp. If you do eat any nuts then feel free to use the ones you prefer, and you’ll simply end up with dairy-free Florentines.

My family are not particularly enamoured with dried fruit, but were won over by the addition of glace cherries and mixed peel – you really do need the sweet tang of the fruit to contrast nicely with the caramel and sugar. Again, feel free to use your dried fruit or candied peel of choice, just make sure you stick to proportions given otherwise you’ll end up with an overly fruity combination.

When baking the Florentines you need to make sure they’re cooked enough without stepping over into the bitter territory. I’ve given a rough idea of 9-12 minutes. Make sure you keep checking, you want the cookies to have spread out, turned a slightly more golden colour and the edges should look a little lacy. Once out of the oven use a blunt knife to tidy up the edges and make neat circles. I’d definitely recommend using a silicon mat if you have one, but non-stick baking paper will do too, and be sure to spread them well apart, I’d recommend only 6 per baking sheet. Cool on the mat/paper before moving to a rack and you’ll end up with perfectly crisp Florentines.

If you have the time and inclination it’s definitely worth tempering the chocolate to give a super shiny base (see the notes below the recipe for instructions on how to easily temper chocolate), but you will still have gorgeous Florentines even if you skip this part.

 

Nut-free Florentines

Makes 12, easily multiplied.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine French
Servings 6

Equipment

  • 2 baking sheets lined with silicone mats or sheets of baking paper

Ingredients
  

  • 50 g dairy-free butter
  • 50 g soft brown sugar
  • 50 g golden syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 50 g oats
  • 25 g pumpkin seeds
  • 25 g candied mixed peel roughly chopped if large pieces
  • 25 g glace cherries roughly chopped
  • 100 g dairy-free dark chocolate

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats or non-stick baking paper
  • Melt together the butter, sugar, syrup and salt until you have a luscious caramel sauce.
  • Stir in all of the other ingredients, except the chocolate.
  • Place teaspoonful dollops of the mixed, spaced well apart on the baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time (or both if using a fan oven at 170 degrees Centigrade) for 9-12 minutes until the cookies have spread out, turned golden and have lacy edges.
  • Using a blunt knife, tidy up the edges to give nice circles. Let cool fully before moving to a wire rack.
  • Temper or melt the chocolate, spread thickly on the flat side of each Florentine, and if desired, using the prongs of a fork, score lines into the chocolate as it cools.
  • These keep well in a sealed container at room temperature for at least 5 days

Notes

To Temper the chocolate: melt 2/3rd of the amount over a bain marie until you reach 45 degrees Centigrade and the chocolate is fully fluid, start adding small chunk of the remaining chocolate, stirring well between each addition until you reduce the temperature to 27 degrees Centigrade. Place back over the bain marie and increase the temperature to 32 degrees centigrade. Use immediately.

 

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