After the Prinsesstårta last week I wanted to be started and finished in the small window created by Naomi’s afternoon nap and Matthew’s trip to the supermarket (I was baking on a Saturday because of a night out with Take That – or as Gary Barlow said – what’s left of them, in the week). I plumped for Delia Smith’s Florentines, as something I may have bought for a gift but, pre-Let’s Bake the Books, wouldn’t have attempted myself.
I read the ingredients list carefully to make sure that I wasn’t going to be ambushed by any extra preparation (as has happened in the past). I needed butter, golden caster sugar, plain flour, double cream, whole almonds (cut into slivers), ready-flaked almonds, candied peel (chopped), glacé cherries (chopped), angelica (finely chopped) and dark chocolate.
Hold on a minute, angelica? I had to google it. It’s a herb, a bit like parsley, and when it’s candied it can be used to decorate cakes. Thank you BBC Good Food. So, basically, the green shiny bits on Florentine biscuits are made of candied angelica.
As suspected, I couldn’t find any in Tesco. Marks and Spencer didn’t have any either. I vaguely remembered cakes decorated with green glacé cherries as a child, and, if all angelica did was to add a bit of green to my biscuits, perhaps they would do. I couldn’t find any of those either so decided to go ahead without anything green.
I heated butter and sugar in a saucepan until the mixture melted and then added double cream. I had a bit of a shock when everything fizzed and bubbled up like a Hogwarts’ potions practical gone wrong. Surely Delia should have warned me. Anyway, I kept stirring and added the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate as per the recipe.
Once everything was incorporated, I let the mixture cool down a little, then put teaspoonfuls onto a lined baking tray. It was only when I’d put them in the oven (for 10 minutes at 170° fan) that I realised that I’d forgotten to put the flour in. I was supposed to heat it along with the sugar and butter at the very beginning.
Perhaps that explained all the fizzing that went on when I added the cream. I decided to give my poor flourless Florentines their allotted time in the oven before trying again. I did have some trouble shifting them onto wire racks when I took them out of the oven, but, all in all, they didn’t look too bad.
The Mixture – second attempt
I had enough ingredients to try a second batch and, after presiding over a three-minute stint on the naughty step (Matthew was back), I put butter, sugar and flour into a saucepan. As I quite often do, I managed to squeeze the flour bag at precisely the wrong moment, and ended up with twice as much flour as I needed. I shovelled the extra back into the bag with a teaspoon, trying to avoid the sugar. If the children complain that the next macaroni cheese I make tastes funny I’ll understand.
So, the recipe says that you have to stir the butter, sugar and flour over a low heat until it has melted. I wasn’t really sure about this. Does flour melt? Was I supposed to have a completely liquid mixture? I seemed to have been stirring for ages so I put the cream in. This time I didn’t get any fizzing. I kept stirring. Delia says that this is to keep the mixture smooth. Mine wasn’t completely smooth but it was smoothish, so I added the rest of the ingredients, let it cool, put teaspoonfuls onto baking trays and put them into the oven.
The floured Florentines did keep their shape better than the flourless ones and, when they came out of the oven, they were much easier to handle.
I let them cool, then melted some dark chocolate to cover the base of the biscuits. They were a bit holey, so I put kitchen roll under the wire racks to catch the drips, and coated the Florentines with chocolate. I let the chocolate cool before attempting to make a wavy line across them with a fork. I couldn’t manage it. Perhaps the chocolate was too warm. It could equally have been too cold. Anyway, I simply could not make a wavy line. I made do with a spiral-type pattern which, I think, looked fine. Here are the final Florentines (with and without flour). They looked pretty good, even without the angelica.
Was it worth it?
Taste-wise, I thought they tasted slightly burned, especially in the Florentines with flour. Jon said he thought that they were the best thing I’d made since I started the blog. That was on Saturday night. On Sunday he had another one (or two) and said that he’d changed his mind. “Perhaps the mixture wasn’t consistent”, he said, “either that or I was a bit drunk”. I wonder which.