Delia Smith thinks these are the best biscuits in the world, but you also need to heed the words of baking guru Annie Bell: “Florentines aren’t the simplest of biscuits, which is why I tend not to go overboard on making them.” So, the key to making a good florentine is that the base mixture – in this case, the butter, sugar, and date syrup – must bind the other ingredients together without weighing them down or leaving them soggy. A good florentine should be crunchy and chewy.
- 1¾ ounces / 50g butter
- 1¾ ounces / 50g demerara sugar
- 1¾ ounces / 50g date syrup
- 1¾ ounces / 50g plain flour
- 1 ounce / 30g chopped cranberries
- 1¾ ounces / 50g candied peel, finely chopped
- 1 ounce / 25g flaked almonds
- 1 ounce / 25g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
- 7 ounces / 200f plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4.
Line three baking trays with baking parchment or silicon sheets.
Put the butter, sugar and date syrup into a small pan and heat gently until the butter is melted.
Remove from the heat and add the flour, chopped cranberries, chopped candied peel and pistachio nuts to the pan. Stir well to mix.
Make 18 florentines by spooning six individual teaspoons of the mixture on to each of the three prepared baking trays, leaving room for them to spread during cooking.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden-brown.
Leave them to cool before lifting onto a cooling rack using a palette knife (see Tips below).
Put a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water without letting the bowl touch the water. Temper the chocolate by breaking half of it into the bowl. Stir until the chocolate reaches a temperature of 53°C / 127°F. Use is sugar thermometer to get this just right.
Meanwhile, finely chop or grate the remaining chocolate.
Carefully remove the bowl from the pan, add the rest of the chocolate and stir gently until the chocolate has cooled to 26°C / 79°F.
Spread a little melted chocolate over the flat base of each florentine and leave to cool slightly before marking a zigzag in the chocolate with a fork. Leave to set, chocolate side up on a cooling rack.
Store in an airtight container.
If they become too hard to remove easily from the parchment (especially if you’ve had them on a greased, unlined tray), just return them briefly to the oven to soften.
Florentine biscuits were sufficiently well known in the 17th century to be described by the English professional chef, Robert May, in his 1660 book The Accomplisht Cook, Or The Art & Mystery Of Cooking.