Mary’s Florentines

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I was just about to type, “It’s only been a month,” and then realized that’s probably an improper use of the word “only” when I “only” have nine recipes left and I’ve “only” been doing this blog for five years.

I think I lost myself in that paragraph.

Back to the matter at hand.

I baked, or as my friend likes to say, “I boke.”

Speaking of that friend (and I know he reads this so I hope he feels called out), I was accused by him of substituting ingredients a little too regularly (a.k.a., every recipe). And obviously I have no excuse, but honestly, when you do 100+ recipes over 5 years and spend who knows how much money on ingredients you use once and then throw out when they expire a couple years later, you start looking for baking loopholes.

Case in point: For this recipe I need “golden syrup.” I knew I had white corn syrup in my cupboard and decided to google the difference between the two. Apparently golden syrup is made from sugar, whereas white corn syrup is made from corn starch. Golden syrup has a “more pronounced buttery caramel flavor,” according to InternationalDessertsBlog.com.

Even still, I thought maybe, just maybe, I could risk it. And then I checked the expiration date on the white corn syrup. The year the world began to end: 2020.

So obviously that had to be thrown out. I went to the grocery store in search of golden syrup, but I only went to my small local grocery store and the only thing they had in the baking aisle was organic agave syrup or golden corn syrup. So I made a compromising choice and got a bottle of the latter that I will inevitably throw out in a few years, 50 grams lighter.

I also have been looking for “candied peel” for months. To be honest, I haven’t been searching with all my heart and soul. I have looked at baking aisles when I happened to be in different grocery stores. And I have found none. And, again, I didn’t want to go out to multiple British import stores in search of 50 grams of candied peel to finely chop. So I compromised. Again.

The recipe calls for 25g of dried cranberries (check), 50g of candied peel (nope), 25g of blanched almonds (almonds yes, blanched no), and 25g of walnut pieces (yup!). In total, that’s 125g of trail mix type stuffs. So I added an extra 25g of dried cranberries plus about 12g of almonds and 13g of walnut pieces.

And then I got to finely chopping.

And then I set that aside, measured out flour, made dinner, watched a QI XL, put my dinner dishes in the dishwasher, and started on the next step:

“Measure the butter, sugar and syrup into a pan and heat gently until the butter has melted.”

A word about the sugar. (Yes, I’m substituting again!)

The recipe calls for demerara sugar. First of all, Demerara sounds like a lovely girl’s name, doesn’t it? (It’s been 106 recipes. I’ve definitely talked about food stuffs as children’s names before.) Secondly, I don’t have demerara sugar and google told me brown sugar would be comparable, although not as coarse. I don’t have brown sugar, but I do have a golden yellow sugar for some reason, so I went with that.

These will be very golden cookies.

I impatiently put the stove element on high and then realized that wasn’t gentle and took it off the heat briefly as the butter caught up with the sugar and syrup.

And then I removed it from the heat entirely and added the flour and trail mix fixin’s.

And then I stirred until it was mixed well and a sticky mess.

The recipe only said to stir until mixed well.

It did not inform me of the sticky mess.

I should stop saying “it” since these are Mary’s Florentines.

So Mary told me, “Using a teaspoon of mixture for each Florentine, spoon 6 dollops on to each of the prepared baking sheets, leaving plenty of room for the biscuits to spread.”

Which I promptly ignored.

Not to brag, but I have pretty big baking sheets, so I went with 8 per pan instead of 6 per pan. Also I didn’t want to use 3 pans and I wanted everything scooped out before the mixture cooled and hardened. Which means instead of 18 cookies, I ended up with 16.

I’m a rule-breaker.

I put that in the oven for 8 minutes, checked, they did not look golden brown, and golden is the word of the day, so I left them in for another 2 minutes.

Et voila!

As per Mary’s instructions, I left them to cool slightly before trying to pick them up with a palette knife, but they moved super easily, so I left them to cool entirely on the parchment.

They seem bigger than the photograph.

Maybe it’s the lack of candied peel. Maybe it’s the incorrect sugar. Maybe I don’t care anymore.

*some time later*

Things have cooled.

And by things I mean Florentines.

And by Florentines I mean delicate greasy discs of lacy trail mix.

If you’ll allow me one moment’s tangent: I had to google “Florentine” to see if it was capitalized or not, and I found out that not only is it capitalized, but once again, it’s not British. I kind of didn’t think it was because Florence is clearly the root word and I have been there and it is in Italy and not England. (I know I didn’t need to say I’ve been there to know it’s in Italy, but I wanted to briefly brag.) Once I’m finished this supposed “British” bakebook, I need to take a closer look at how many recipes are actually British, and how many are just stolen. (If you want a better tangent on this topic, watch comedian James Acaster’s perspective on British cultural robbery.)

Tangent over.

Mary says to melt half the chocolate in a bowl and finely chop the rest of the chocolate to add when you remove it from the heat.

So I melted half the chocolate in a bowl.

And then I took the other chocolate bar from Ikea, broke it up in the sealed packaging, placed it on the counter, and bashed it with a rolling pin. All because I didn’t want to be bothered to finely chop it.

But it worked! And I have one less cutting board to wash.

And then I held the cookie in my left hand, took a silicone pastry brush in my right hand, and got brushing.

And then I tried to figure out how to take a photo of the actual process with fingers covered in melted chocolate.

So I took this photo:

Did a quick brush-brush, balanced the brush on the edge of the bowl, moved the camera in closer, and cropped it so it looked like I was mid-brush:

And then I realized I still had a bunch of chocolate left and I can’t be wasteful. So like any good painter, I did a second coat.

Mary wants me to “cool slightly before marking a zigzag in the chocolate with a fork” but you know what, Mar-Bear? It’s 10 p.m. I am exhausted. I’m going to leave these out overnight so they can set (fingers crossed!), and get ready for bed.

Hopefully they’re delicious enough that the people eating them won’t be put off by the lack of zigzag.

*the next day*

I woke up and went to see if the chocolate had set, and they were still a little soft. Mary was really specific about temperatures in the recipe that I straight-up ignored, so I think that may be a contributing factor.

Whoops.

I put the lot of them into the fridge for the morning and carried on with my day.

When it was time to go to my outdoor gathering of co-workers, I layered them with parchment paper in a container, popped them in a cooler bag, and packed wet wipes and paper towel for the inevitable mess.

The one who accused me of substitutes saw them and said, “Are those Florentines?” So I’m glad I got close enough to the recipe for the to be recognizable! Everyone seemed to be a fan and a couple people took more than one, so I’d say this recipe was a success.

There is definitely a caramel flavour to them, and they look fairly impressive, and despite the mess of chocolate, they were actually pretty easy to make.

So I’d put these in the “could make again” column.

I can’t believe it. 106 recipes down. 8 to go.

  1. Biscuits and traybakes (1 left)
  2. Breads (1 left)
  3. Cakes (1 left)
  4. Sweet pastry and patisserie (2 left)
  5. Savoury bakes (1 left)
  6. Puddings and desserts (2 left)

One Comment Add yours

  1. Wow, thanks for the shout out! That makes me feel special.

    A couple of points:

    – Yes, “boke” is the correct past tense of “bake” (or at least it should be)!
    – Your substitution habit and loose cannon approach to following recipes continues to bring me great joy and laughter
    – The Florentines were delicious, although they could have used some candied peel, real demerara sugar (whatever that is), and a zigzag pattern in the chocolate!
    – Not sure by which flex I’m more impressed, your big baking sheets or the fact that you’ve been to Florence.

    If I had to make a suggestion on how to improve them, I’d say they’d be better with milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate. Then again that’s likely personal preference.

    I’m a bit bummed that there are only so few recipes left. Hopefully you’ll find another book to bake through.

    Thanks for the chuckles!

    Liked by 1 person

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