This recipe is the Tin and Thyme version of Nigella’s Florentines. They’re easy to make, if a bit messy and they are delicious to eat. Just think nutty, fruity and chewy. The dark chocolate creates the perfect foil for the sweet biscuits. They make great gifts for family and friends at any time of the year, but particularly at Christmas.
Florentines: From Italy or Austria?
The theme for this month’s Forever Nigella hosted by Maison Cupcake was Italian. All I could think of was a chocolate torte, but having made one for the last challenge, I wanted to do something a bit different, but what? A quick flick through How to be a Domestic Goddess and I alighted on florentines. Excellent, what could be more Italian than florentines?
On investigation, of course, it seems there is some debate as to whether florentines actually originated from Florence, as the name suggests, or from Austria. Still, I figured the name alone qualified them for the challenge and they’d also do very nicely as something suitable to take to my mother’s for tea.
Or would they? On 2nd thoughts I wasn’t quite so sure; I had vague memories of attempting these once before in the dim and distant past and that they perhaps had not been very successful. Oh well, nothing ventured and all that. Rather nervously I proceeded.
I needn’t have worried. These florentines weren’t nearly as difficult to make as I’d thought, just slightly messy. I was pleased with the results, even if they didn’t look as pretty as Nigella’s. For those that have the book, you will see I deviated fairly substantially from the original recipe.
Those that know me have probably grasped the fact that I’m incapable of following a recipe to the letter. In mitigation, however, I didn’t have the requisite fruit to hand. I also thought vanilla sugar would work well in this recipe.
How right I was. Nutty, chewy and delicious is what these florentines are. The plain chocolate is a good foil for the sweetness of the fruity biscuits.
How To Make Nigella’s Florentines: Step-By-Step
As I’ve already stated, making these florentines can be a bit of a messy business. To be frank, melted chocolate has a habit of spreading itself around. So I advise wearing an apron for this recipe.
Step 1. Melt A Roux
In a heavy based saucepan, melt unsalted butter and sugar together over a gently heat. It takes a while for the sugar to dissolve, but hang on and it will get there. Give it a stir from time to time.
As soon as the sugar has dissolved, spoon in some flour. Stir vigorously, just like you’d do when making a roux.
Pour the cream in, bit by bit, stirring all the time. Just think white sauce. As soon as it comes together and starts to bubble, turn off the heat.
I use vanilla sugar or sometimes cardamom sugar for an extra flavour dimension.
To make these, leave a vanilla pod or cardamom pods in a jar of sugar. They will infuse the sugar with their delicious taste. Leave for at least a week and shake regularly. When you use some of the sugar, just top the jar up when you’ve finished.
Step 2. Add Nuts & Fruit
Make sure your fruit and nuts are more or less the same size. Chop up any larger pieces if necessary. As I was using sultanas, cranberries and flaked almonds, the only ingredients I had to chop was the brazil nuts. I also used crystallised papaya and pineapple, but they come in quite small pieces anyway.
Add to the cream mixture and stir.
Use whatever dried fruit and nuts you fancy or raid your cupboards and see what you have. This florentine recipe is a good one for a kitchen clear out.
Step 3: Bake Florentines
Take teaspoonfuls of the florentine mixture and place on baking trays. Make sure you give each one plenty of space as they will spread in the oven. If you have good nonstick trays, you don’t need to do anything, otherwise grease the trays first.
I only have one tray, so I have to bake the florentines in batches. Even if you have two, you might need to bakes two lots.
Bake as near to the middle of the oven as you can get. They only need ten minutes. When they’re done, the edges should be a golden brown. Don’t worry if they’re a bit browner than you’d like, they will still taste good.
If you want your florentines to be uniform circles, now is the time to shape them. Quickly press them into rounds with a knife or silicon spatula. As you can see from my photos, I quite like the rustic look.
Leave on the trays for a few minutes to firm up a little. They’re quite fragile so use a slice to carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
This amount of mixture makes between twenty and thirty florentines, depending on how big you make them. Ideally, they should be petite, but sometimes large is good. If you’re giving them as gifts, small is probably the way to go.
Step 4. Melt Chocolate
Whilst the florentines are baking, melt the chocolate. Nigella has rather over estimated the amount of needed. She states 100 grams of dark and 100 grams of white in her recipe. I find that 150 grams in total is plenty. Enough so you don’t panic you’re going to run out, but not too much wastage either.
Place about three quarters of the chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of nearly, but not quite boiling water. Ensure the bowl isn’t touching the water below and that no steam escapes. If the chocolate gets wet, it will seize and you won’t be able to use it to coat these florentines.
Leave it to melt. When it looks as though it’s melted give a good stir to ensure that no chocolate pieces remain. Turn the heat off and take the bowl off the pan. Add the remaining chocolate and leave for a few minutes to melt. Give a good stir and use immediately.
This is the quick and dirty method of tempering chocolate. It’s not perfect by any means, but it usually works well enough. If you don’t temper the chocolate, it will look dull when set. It may also go streaky after a while and white spots might form. See my temper temper post for more information about tempering chocolate.
It’s best to use couverture chocolate or cook’s chocolate buttons for covering confectionary. Both of these generally have a higher cocoa butter content, which makes it easier to melt the chocolate.
Step 5. Coat Florentines
Place the florentines, top side down, on a piece of greaseproof paper. Using a palate knife or the back of a spoon, coat the bottom of each florentine with chocolate. You may need to do this twice, although you don’t want the chocolate to be too thick or it will overwhelm the cookie element.
You’ll need to work as quickly as you can so that the chocolate remains runny enough to work with.
Leave the florentines for a couple of hours or so to set, then place in an airtight container lined with greaseproof paper. If the florentines are intended as gifts, package up into airtight bags immediately. They will go soft if left exposed to the air for too long.
Use a mix of milk, white and dark chocolate for a more interesting finish and a fork to make wavy lines on the chocolate, if desired.
Top Tip: Spiced Hot Chocolate
You’ll probably find you have some chocolate left in the bowl. Pour 200-250 millilitres of hot milk onto the remaining chocolate together with a pinch of ground cinnamon and one of cayenne powder. Stir it well and you have a delicious mug of hot chocolate.
Other Edible Gift Recipes You Might Like
- Chilli chocolate fudge
- Chocolate & hazelnut crinkle cookies
- Christmas butter biscuits
- Christmas chocolate bark
- Coconut bliss balls (vegan)
- Homemade chocolate brazils (vegan)
- Whisky truffles with dark chocolate and fresh cream
If you’d like a few more gift ideas, click on my gifts category. For more Christmas food ideas, take a look at this vegetarian and vegan Christmas recipes post. There’s over 70 of them to choose from. My Vegetarian Christmas board on Pinterest is also well worth a look.
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make my version of Nigella’s Florentines, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate it. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like more biscuit recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious and nutritious, of course.
Nigella’s Florentines. PIN IT.
Nigella’s Florentines – The Recipe
- 25 g unsalted butter
- 90 g golden caster or granulated sugar I used vanilla sugar
- 15 g plain flour
- 150 ml double cream
- 50 g Brazil nuts – chopped into rough chunks
- 50 g flaked almonds
- 30 g crystallised pineapple
- 20 g mixed peel
- 80 g mix of sour cherries, raisins and goji berries or cranberries
- 150 g dark chocolate Couverture or cook's chocolate buttons are best.
- Melt the butter at a low heat in a medium sized pan.
- Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Beat in the flour as if making a white sauce.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. Beat until smooth, then stir in the fruit and nuts.
- Place teaspoonfuls, well spaced apart, on baking trays lined with baking paper. The mixture will spread.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4) for 10 minutes. The florentines are done when the edges have turned a golden brown.
- Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, reshaping them into rounds quickly if needed, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of nearly boiling water.
- Spread the melted chocolate over the backs of the Florentines with a palette knife or back of a spoon. Place chocolate side up onto a sheet of baking paper and leave to set.
I’m sharing Nigella’s florentines with Searching for Spice for #CookOnceEatTwice.
Post updated October 2021