Florentine factory

19 Dec

IMG_3708

The apartment kitchen turned into a Florentine factory

One of my favourite MacCulloch recipies is our Florentine recipe, with it’s medley of flaked almonds, dried fruits and dark chocolate.  There are so many different recipes for making this wonderful sweet treat but I’ve never found one that I enjoy quite as much.  One of it’s great strengths is that you can add pretty much anything to the mix to customise them. Adding crystalised ginger for example gives them a sophisticated feel which works beautifully with the dark chocolate. I’m quite happy to make them time of the year (the heat of summer is probably not a good idea though!) but they work particularly well at Christmas when the addition of some red and green glace cherries give them an especially festive air.

The other element of our version which I love is the fact that it’s so simple, if a little messy.  The element which makes it so straightforward is rice paper, which is used in sheet form for baking the Florentines.  After the baked Florentines have cooled the surplus rice paper can be broken away and the backs covered with chocolate.  However, in the last few years I’ve noticed that rice paper has become more and more difficult to find (I think that there’s a similarity here with the disappearance of angelica) and where it used to be a commonplace on supermarket baking shelves now its place seems to have been usurped by gelatine for all those trendy jelly makers out there (though how much of this is actually sold I’ve no idea).  I live in fear of rice paper disappearing altogether and being unable to make my Florentines but luckily good old Lakeland sells fantastic packs of A4 sheets which I keep buying in industrial quantities.

As I started writing this post I was reminded that I often wonder why Florentines are called Florentines.  Others seem to have the same thought.  Emiko Davies in Honest Cooking has a great article which delves into the history and concludes that they probably have their origins in 17th century French kitchens in honour of Catherine d’Medici.  If anyone has any other thoughts on the history of Florentine I’d love to hear more.

  IMG_3709 The chocolate coating begins!

When Mr Kim asked me to think about a gift for his office which had a few Kim characteristics making the Florentines seemed like an obvious choice, in their miniature, petit four format as a filler for the main gift.  With 24 people in the office I needed quite a few Florentines and so turned our apartment kitchen in something of a Florentine factory.  When they were packaged up four to a cellophane bag and tied with some narrow green ribbon they were just perfect for fitting in the Japanese fish dishes which formed the Mr Kim part of the present.

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The finished Florentines (apologies for the dark photograph – the light kept reflecting on the cellophane)

In case anyone is interested in this Florentine version here’s the recipe:

MacCulloch Florentines

3oz butter

4oz icing sugar

6oz dried fruit (I use various mixtures but usually with a base of raisins, currants and mixed peel.  Glace cherries, pistachios and dried cranberries can add colour, crystalised ginger an elegant taste)

4oz flaked almonds

squeeze of lemon juice

sheets of rice paper

4oz dark chocolate (I like using Lindt 70% cocoa)

  1. Melt the butter over a low heat and add the icing sugar.  Stir until well mixed.
  2. Add the dried fruit, almonds and lemon juice. Stir well.
  3. Place in the refrigerator for half an hour to cool
  4. Line two baking sheets with rice paper and spoon piles of the mixture onto the sheets in the desired size.
  5. Bake in a 180/250 degree oven for c.10 minutes (the time will depend on the size so watch carefully!)
  6. Place on a baking rack to cool and when cold break off the surplus rice paper; Rest on sheets of kitchen towel.
  7. Melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie and spoon onto the backs of the Florentines.  Rest on kitchen towel chocolate side up and allow to cool
  8. Eat and enjoy!

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messy but very moreish!

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2 Responses to “Florentine factory”

  1. Cesca December 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    These are fab! I made them for prezzies this Crimbo and everyone loved them xxxx thank you Alex

    • maplesyrupandcastersugar December 30, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      Dear Cesca

      thanks for letting me know about your version of this recipe – glad that they were so successful!

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