Cranberry and Orange Florentines

florentinesI have started feeling very festive all of a sudden. I guess it must be due, in part, to decorating the tree today. This was accompanied by the crashing overtones of Handel’s Messiah, not directly Christmas-y, but, being choral, it puts me in the festive mood nonetheless.  Having resisted the descending season with some effort for the last few weeks– even with the repetitious Christmas playlist pounding its way into my head at work – it now seems time to embrace the inevitable.

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I made the optimistic, blasé resolution way back in October to make edible Christmas presents this year. I already have the Rhubarb and Ginger Gin in the bag, along with some Quince Cheese, but need to supplement it with something else. I decided to take the plunge with Florentines, which I have never attempted before. More to the point, I’ve only ever eaten a nice on one occasion. I managed to eat a total of about ten in small little ‘tastes’, which I assured myself were for quality control purposes.

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I underestimated just how many I would need (due to, unfortunately, having lots of friends and family to give them to) and the amount of time it would take to make around 100 Florentines. They are basically simple, but anything made in a large quantity gets a bit stressful, and you end up staring around slightly manically, covered in bits of whatever it is you’re making. I kept leaving trays of cooked Florentines around the house to cool, then forgetting about them. The tipping point came for me when I’d thought I’d finished, only to find a rogue batch on top of the washing machine a few hours later.

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You will need lots of baking paper (I used nearly a whole roll)

Makes 50-60 (depending on how big you make them and how many you eat along the way)

800g flaked almonds

250g cranberries

zest of 3 oranges

1 tbsp runny honey

375g dark brown muscovado sugar

250g butter

250ml double cream

500g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 160C. Lay the almonds out on two baking sheets and toast for 5 minutes in the oven, until just starting to brown. Take out of the oven and set aside. In a large pan, put the sugar, butter and honey in a large pan over a medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter melts. Mix in the cream and let the mixture bubble away for a few minutes. Add the toasted almonds, cranberries and orange zest.

Line  4 baking trays with baking paper. Dollop dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the tray, flattening them slightly, and leaving space between them as they spread out when baked. Bake in the oven for 8-10 mins until the caramel bubbles and they have turned a darker brown.  Leave on the baking trays to cool. Next, melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water, When the Florentines are cool, lay out another sheet of baking paper on the worksurface. Peel off the Florentines and place them, flat side up, on the clean baking paper. Spread a layer of melted chocolate on the base. Be careful to completely cover the base in chocolate – it doesn’t matter if some runs over the side, as this helps the Florentines to stay together. Leave in a cool place for the chocolate to set, then flip the right way up (they chocolate should be on the bottom). I put them in cellophane bags and tied them with ribbon.

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