Come back Italy, all is forgiven.  While I maintain panettone is a disappointment, florentines mean Christmas for me.  This time of year is nothing if not a celebration of dried fruit and sugar, and florentines have these in abundance.  I made these as dessert, but they could easily be given as a present, wrapped up in a bag with a bit of nice string.  So if you can’t bear to look at another shop, rustle these up instead.  One proviso, I don’t know how shop bought florentines manage to get their perfectly round shape, I tried several times but couldn’t manage it, they spread irresistibly into lacy blobs.

Florentines (after Delia)

5 oz (150 g) dark chocolate (70-75 per cent cocoa solids)
1 oz (25 g) butter
3 oz (75 g) caster sugar
1/2 oz (10 g) plain flour
2½ fl oz (65 ml) double cream
2 oz (100 g) ready-flaked almonds
2 oz (50 g) whole candied peel, chopped
1 oz (25 g) glacé cherries, chopped

(I doubled this recipe, to make about 35 florentines, so I reckon this one makes about 17)

Melt the butter, sugar and flour under a low heat, stirring until it’s all melted.  Gradually add the cream, it should go golden and caramel in texture.  Then add all the other ingredients except the chocolate.  Grease a baking sheet, then put flattened teaspoons of the mixture onto it, make sure they are well seperated because they do spread a lot in the cooking.  Bake at gas 5 for about 10 minutes, but watch them, because they burn quickly.  You won’t harm them by opening the oven door a few times.  You’ll have to do one tray at a time because they have got to go on the top shelf.  Leave to cool for a few minutes, then prise off onto a cooling rack.

Now melt the chocolate.  Using a spoon, either cover the backs of the florentines in chocolate, or half cover them by dipping them in the bowl.  Either way has its drawbacks.  I ended up with several stuck to the plate, but it was a good excuse to eat them.  This is a good finger licking recipe, because the chocolate gets all over you.  Leave to set for a while, then consume greedily.

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