If you’re looking for biscuits to give to friends and family at Christmas and Easter, try Florentines. Rich, chewy, and packed with nuts and fruits, these honey-sweetened treats taste truly celebratory. Try making your own Candied Peel and use it in our delicious Florentine recipe.
Florentines are ancient Italian treats made with cream, butter, honey, fruit and nuts. They are good keepers, so they’re a nice addition to a Christmas Biscuit selection. To give them away, cool thoroughly before packing into an airtight jar and tying with ribbon.
Make Your Own Candied Peel
You will need:
- 1 orange, peeled
- 110g (4oz) caster sugar
Peel the orange, then use a sharp knife to remove all of the white pith on the inside of the peel. The pith gives the peel a bitter taste: you want just the orange skin. Cut into strips lengthways and put into a small saucepan, then cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and drain the pan, then refill with fresh water, return to the boil, and simmer gently, topping up with water occasionally, until the peel is soft – this will take about an hour. Strain the orange peel and discard the water. Chop the peel into ½ cm squares or strips, depending on what you’d like in your Florentines.
Put the sugar into the pan with 3tbsp water, and heat it gently to dissolve. Put in the peel and swirl the pan to coat it evenly. Simmer very gently until the peel has absorbed the syrup and looks translucent – this can take another hour or so on a low heat. Strain the peel and put onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper. It will need to dry out overnight or for as long as 24 hours – putting it into the airing cupboard helps to speed up the process.
Cranberry Florentines – Recipe
Toasting the nuts and making your own candied peel makes these Florentines superior to shop versions.
You will need:
- 50g (2oz) unsalted butter
- 3tbsp honey
- 50g (2oz) ground almonds
- 50g (2oz) candied peel (see above)
- 50g (2oz) dried cranberries
- 25g (1oz) flaked almonds
- 100g (4oz) milk or dark chocolate, to coat
Put the butter and honey into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter is melted. Take off the heat while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 180 ºC and put the almonds on a baking sheet. When the oven’s hot, pop them in for 3-5 minutes to toast them lightly. Cool.
Stir the remaining ingredients into the cooled butter, folding to distribute the Fruit and Nuts evenly. Now place tablespoons of the mixture onto lined baking trays, pressing lightly to flatten a bit. Put the trays into the preheated oven and set the timer for 8 minutes; when the biscuits have spread and turned a little golden, they’re ready. Cool on a wire rack.
To coat the Florentines, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Put paper or foil beneath your wire rack to catch drips. Taking one at a time, dip half into the Chocolate to form a coating, then place on the rack to cool.