Christmas in my family is all about traditions, I think we all like to recreate a little bit of our own childhood memories. Here's a good old recipe given to me by my mother, who makes them every year. They taste of Christmas and are so delicious they rarely make it through to Boxing day. I've given them a little twist by substituting golden syrup for agave syrup which gives the florentines a slightly chewy texture.
This recipe is quite similar to making brandy snaps, it's pretty quick, super easy and a great way to get the kids baking. I've used dark chocolate but you could use milk chocolate or white chocolate if you prefer.
I've got a couple of silicon baking mats which are just amazing, nothing ever sticks to them. Baking parchment is fine if you don't have any silicon mats.
This recipe makes 15-18 florentines.
50g Unsalted Butter
50g Light Soft Brown Sugar
50g Agave Syrup
50g Plain Flour
50g Dried cranberries finely chopped
25g Dried Apricots, finely chopped
25g Whole Blanched Almonds, chopped
25g Walnuts, chopped
Zest of a Clementine
200g Dark Chocolate
Pinch of Salt
Preheat your oven to 175C.
Start by chopping up the dried fruit and the nuts, I like to have small and slightly larger bits so it's fine to do this roughly.
In a saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar and syrup, then add the flour and mix. Add in all the dried fruit, nuts and the clementine zest and mix again.
Place teaspoon sized blobs of the mixture onto your silicon mat or baking parchment, leaving plenty of space between each one as they will spread out as they bake.
Cook them in the oven for 7-8 minutes, they should be lightly golden on the edges. Remove and let them sit for a minute, as they cool they will firm up so don't try to lift them off the tray too quickly. Once you are able, lift them off and place on a wire cooking rack to cool completely.
To get a nice shine on the chocolate coating your chocolate will need tempering. This is actually a fairly simply process but it does nothing to affect the taste, it's all about looks and snap. It's brilliant if you have a digital probe as you can be really accurate.
In a bowl over hot water, gently melt half the chocolate to 40C. Once the chocolate starts to melt, keep stirring it, this helps the tempering process. Once everything has melted to a nice fluid consistency, remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate. Your aim is to bring down the temperature of the chocolate to 31C. Keep stirring to melt the cold chocolate, bringing down the temperature as you go. Once everything has melted and the temperature is down to between 31-32C, it's ready to use.
To finish, spread some of the melted chocolate over the back of the cooled florentines and that's it, leave for an hour for the chocolate to set and try to resist eating them all at once.
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The beauty of making a paella - NO STIRRING! Get it on and go and do something else, the results are stunning. There are so many variations of this Catalan classic and (just like a risotto) there are so many different ingredients that you can use. When by the coast, fish and shellfish rule, the further inland, chicken, rabbit, sausage are the key. To make a good paella, there are a few things that you need to get right, the rest will take care of itself.
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