Flavour of the Month – December: Festive Florentines
What’s in season in December?
Apples, clementines, cranberries, passion fruit, pears, pomegranates, satsumas, tangerines
Beetroot, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, celeriac, chicory, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, mushrooms (wild), onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, shallots, swedes, turnips, winter squash
When you’re talking treats, these caramelised creations totally take the biscuit (sorry!!)
They’re simple to make and packed with wonderful wintery flavours like chocolate, ginger, sour cherries and toasty nuts. This is our favourite recipe (adapted from The Guardian), but you can easily create your own combo from the wide selection of dried fruit and nuts available at this time of year (or whatever you have in your store cupboard!). Try white chocolate, cranberries and almonds, OR dark chocolate, pecans and ginger pieces, OR milk chocolate, dried apricots and pistachios – all delicious, trust us!
And they make a tasty homemade Christmas gift (if you can bear to give them away!) Simply wrap up with a twist of ribbon.
Timing: Preparation & cooking – 40 minutes, plus cooling time
Equipment: 2 Baking trays, baking paper, small saucepan, heatproof bowl (for melting chocolate)
Suitable for vegetarians; see adaptation for vegans below
30g candied peel, finely chopped
30g soft dried apricots, roughly chopped
45g dried sour cherries, roughly chopped (or dried cranberries)
45g soft dried figs, roughly chopped
3 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped (optional, or use crystallised ginger)
20g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
60g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
15g plain flour
45g unsalted butter
60g demerara sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp double cream
200g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa) broken into pieces (or milk chocolate or white chocolate)
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Put all the chopped fruit, ginger and nuts in a bowl, sift over the flour and toss together until the flour is evenly distributed.
- Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan over a medium heat until combined.
- Remove pan from the heat, stir in the salt and cream, then stir into the fruit and nut mixture.
- While it’s still warm, dollop rounded teaspoons of mixture on to the baking sheets and flatten out, leaving plenty of room between them, as they will spread a little.
- Bake for about 10-15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool on the tray.
- Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure it doesn’t touch the water.
- Use a spoon to drizzle the melted chocolate over the Florentines, then leave to cool. You can use a fork to make a wavy pattern in the setting chocolate.
- Let the chocolate set completely before serving, giftwrapping or storing in an airtight container.
Caramel sauce: – We used 3 tbsp coconut oil, 60g demerara sugar and a splash of almond milk. Click here for a good alternative recipe.
Chocolate base: Melt cacao with a dash of agave syrup.
Tip: Melting Chocolate
If you’re not careful, melting chocolate can turn into a kitchen nightmare!
Overheating, or contact with even a few drops of water can make chocolate ‘seize’ into a thick dull sludge that’s unusable (because the sugars lump together and separate from the fat). It doesn’t even taste that great anymore!
On the hob
Break chocolate into pieces into a heatproof bowl.
Sit bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
Stir chocolate occasionally as it softens.
Heat chocolate on medium heat for about 1 minute.
Remove and stir.
Heat further at 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth and melted.
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