Florentines are very expensive little biscuits to buy, and if you make them yourself they are frankly only as good as the ingredients you use, so you have to shell out for quality stuff. But having said that, a little goes a long way with this recipe,and once you've got the idea with them you can make yourself a large enough supply to keep a batch in the freezer and stll have some spare to take along with you when you're invited to friends houses around Christmas and New Year and need something luxurious other than wine to take along.
As I said this is the time to shell out on decent ingredients, don't waste your time and money on cheap chocolate, and ancient dried peel. I recommend Waitrose Italian candied peel, and a good 70% dark chocolate. I buy ready flaked almonds, as I don't have the patience to do them myself, but get them from a source with a good turnover like Julian Graves, as the surface area of exposed nut means that they go stale quite quickly. You're supposed to have a little candied angelica in the mix, but I find it's quite difficult to find these days so I bought a tub of coloured glace cherries also from Julian Graves, as some of them are green and this gives the necessary hint of green-ness to the end product.
You will need
8 oz caster sugar
half a pint double cream
4oz candied peel
8oz flaked almonds
4oz pot red and green glace cherries, chopped
200g dark chocolate
Melt the butter and sugar together gently in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Stir in the cream and cook over a low heat for a minute, then remove from the heat and stir in the candied peel,almonds and cherries.
Drop teaspoonfuls on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or Bake-o-Glide, and bake in the middle of the Aga, Gas 5 or 6 for about 10 minutes, until golden round the edges, but keep an eye on them as they catch quickly and burn. They will still be soft when you take them out, so let them set for a minute or two, then transfer to a wire tray to cool and firm up.
When the little biscuits are cold, melt your chocolate in your chosen way, I put it on the Aga before I start and it's just about ready when I need it later. Holding the biscuits carefully at the edges, coat them generously with the dark chocolate and using a fork, mark them with the traditional wavy lines before it sets.
You can make lots with this amount, especially if you keep them small. You may find you need more than 200g of chocolate depending on how generous you are with your coating. And you could do some with milk, or white chocolate if that's what you fancy.
They freeze very well and take virtually no time to defrost, which means that very handily you can take a couple out, put the kettle on and they'll be ready to eat by the time it boils. All too convenient for the weak of will I fear.