Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year, a new snowstorm and some Florentine's

Happy New Dawn, Happy New Day, Happy New Year, Happy New Decade!!
Celebrate 2010 with FLORENTINE'S a festive treat that is neither, cookie, biscuit nor sweet (candy) but seems to be a combination of all!!...for those of you in the US it is akin to a Heath bar combined with fruitcake but don't let that put you off!! They are so simple they are quite hard to make..but here goes...
THE RECIPE from "The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea" by Helen Simpson
90g/3 1/2oz/7 tbsps butter
100g/4oz/1/2 cup sugar
100g/4oz/2/3 cup chopped almonds (which have been toasted first in a 200F oven for about 10 mins. until fragrant)
50g/2oz/1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
50g/2oz/1/3 cup dried cranberries...mine were raspberry infused but use any you like or dried cherries...something red though looks good
50g/2oz/1/3 cup chopped candied orange peel (I made my own...cut the skins off 2 organic, unsprayed oranges, remove as much pith as possible, and slice into strips...put in a pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and remain on the boil for about 10 mins, drain and repeat this process another 2 times (this process helps rid the rinds of bitterness but keeps the orange flavour), then put 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a pan with the drained orange peel and boil down and down and down, adding more water as needed until the peel is transparent...this takes an inordinately long time and is very unguagable so you just need to keep boiling, as soon as the mixture gets thicker keep stirring and don't leave alone it will catch and burn very easily!!...the longer you boil the softer the peel....but transparent is what you are aiming for...various cookbooks have told me that this only takes 10 mins but NO!!! I have not found this to be true! When they are ready lay each strip out individually on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before chopping into small pieces...they will be very sticky!!!)
15ml/1 tbsp/1tbsp single/heavy cream
175g/6oz/6 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1. Line your baking sheets with parchment can only put 4 Florentines at a time on a regular sized baking sheet as they spread quite impressively.
2. Heat oven to 350F.
2. In a pan melt together the butter and sugar and boil gently together for 1 minute.
3. Remove pan from heat and stir in all the other ingredients EXCXLUDING the chocolate.
4. Stir everything around 'til all is well coated.
5. Drop small rounded heaps of this goo onto the baking sheets well to each corner.
6. Bake for 10 minutes until evenly toast coloured...the edges will be darker than the centre but the centre must be 'set' before you take them out of the oven, if they aren't you won't be able to get them off the parchment without loosing the centres!! Believe me this happened. I found if you rotate the sheet halfway through cooking and distribute the solid ingredients this helped the centres set better.
7. Remove when evenly browned... use a spatula or similar to nudge the edges of the 'caramel' into smaller and neater circles, then leave on the tray for about 5 minutes until they are beginning to set...try out with one first and see if you can move it easily to a cooling so with them all when ready.
8. Repeat until you have used up all the goo.
9. Melt the chocolate in a dry pan...any water and the chocolate will 'seize'...this is not good and renders the chocolate useless for this project.
10. Turn Florentines over to their smooth side and put a dollop of melted chocolate on each, smudge around to near the edges, when the choccy has set a little use the times of a fork to make wiggly lines in the absolute must for them to look authentic.
11. Cool completely and consume...being careful not to crack any teeth as these are quite the crunchy delight, although a day after they are made they do ameliorate and loose some of that hard candy edge . Mine would have been more glittery and colourful if I had chosen to go down the path of red and green glaceed cherries but I couldn't bring myself to use such 'not-found-in-nature' anomalies...I preferred the raspberry infused cranberries I found at the Belfast Co-op

NOW FOR NEW YEARS DAY PICTURES...of the snow BEFORE the storm!! Yes friends these are images before the real storm hits...I will endeavor to take more if I can dig my way out of the house in the next few days!!

Happy New Year!! Love, Patricia xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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