It’s a race against time, like a fight to the finish. Thankfully no resolutions for me this year, otherwise, one would most certainly have been not to work under pressure. But this time, cookies I have to make, & the reason is Meeta. I’m on the deadline, with ginger in one hand, & crystallised ginger in the other, getting to her World of Spice Cookies episode of Monthly Mingle @ What’s For Lunch Honey. This is one event I try very hard not to miss, & the large-hearted lady has allowed me on-board late a couple of times. This time I shall make it by a whisker…I think!! She is looking for traditional spiced cookies from around the world. My cookies come from Italy, & the spice within is GINGER. For some strange reason, ginger is pretty much ruling my life ever since I recently crystallised the root! So, armed with a jar of ginger, I scanned the Internet, & all my books for ginger cookies. The minute I saw the Florentines in The Great Big Cookie Book, I knew I had reached my destination. They had crystallised orange peel & fresh stem ginger, in addition to ground ginger. YES…Mama Mia…this was it! I substituted fresh stem ginger for crystallised ginger, increased the powdered ginger & got the most amazing traditional spice cookies I’ve ever made. Florentines sound like they should come from Florence, Italy. Though their origin is largely unknown & uncertain, Florentines are traditionally associated with Italian cookies. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did Meeta. Made them specially for you & Anita!I never get into the kitchen early in the morning, but I did today. Handsome lace cookies these, but obviously not for the faint-hearted again. The first batch I put in floated away merrily & became rivers of Florentines, something like Rivers of Babylon? I got delicious, calorie ridden, shards from batch number 1. How whimsical & ironical…pretty lace in shards?I think I’m partially to blame, because when it comes to cookies, I am over confident, & tend to ignore exact measurements. I sometimes throw in a little bit more of this, extra that, a little less something else! Not lucky every time, & certainly not this time. Have to admit though, the floating cookies of batch 1 made delicious & pretty shards, bursting with many unsuspected calories, & a nice crunch. I had to add some more flour to batch number 2 which went in to bake next. Life then looked up with the remaining batches; cookies which made a Leaning Tower of Pisa as compared to the earlier rivers. My word of caution here, for cookies like these, make sure you don’t deviate at all from the basic recipe. Was my callousness altogether, because these are very similar to lace cookies, & I should have known…Florentines are a delicious mixture of toasted nuts and candied fruit that are coated with a sweet sticky mixture of honey and sugar and baked until golden brown and bubbly. The crowning touch is a layer of melted chocolate. Florentine cookie; a thin caramelized disc of candied fruit and nuts also with a layer of chocolate on one side. When you hear the name ‘Florentine’, you instantly think it must be from Florence Italy. Unfortunately, history does not tell us its true origin. What we do know is that it is popular in Europe and that there are different forms of this sweet confection. Since Florentines contain candied fruit and glace cherries, this confection is especially popular during the holiday season. If you want to make it other times of the year you may want to stock up on candied fruits in December, as they are often hard to find other times of the year.
Double Cream – 1/2 cup
Unsalted butter – 1/4 cup
Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup
Honey – 2 tbsp
Flaked almonds – 1 1/2 cups ( I used 1 cup)
Plain flour – 1/3 cup
Ground ginger – 1/2 tsp (I used 1 heaped)
Candied peel/ginger – 1/2 cup
Plain chocolate – 200 gms
White chocolate – 150 gms
- Preheat the oven to 180C. lightly grease 2-3 baking sheets.
In a medium saucepan, stir the cream + butter + honey + sugar over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves. Stir continuously & bring to a boil.
Remove from heat & stir in the almonds + ground ginger until well blended.
Stir in the candied peel + ginger + 50gms of chopped plain chocolate.
Drop teaspoons of the mixture on the prepared sheets at least 3″ apart. Spread each round as thinly as possible with the back of a spoon. (Dip the spoon into water to prevent sticking)
Bake for 8-20 minutes until the edges are golden & bubbling. Do not under bake or they will be sticky, & do not over bake as they burn easily.
If you like, use a 3″ round cookie cutter to neaten the edges of the Florentines while on the baking sheet.
Remove & cool baking sheets on racks for 10 minutes until cookies are firm. Then transfer cookies to the rack with a spatula & cool completely.
Melt the plain & white chocolate separately in a double boiler, stir till thick (about 5 minutes), & spread half the Florentines with white chocolate, & the others with plain on the flat side of each biscuit. Chill for 5-10 minutes to set completely.
Makes about 30 deliciously rich Florentines.
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