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Monday, 2 May 2011

Almond & Orange Florentines

Whats good about this post is that I am actually going back to my original concept (see my first post) of cooking recipes from a cookbook I own! I think of all the posts I have done, only about 2 actually do so.  This recipe comes from the wonderful Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (an Israeli and Palestinian who run the very successful Ottolenghi and Nopi delis/restaurants).  I am sure that at this point someone very intelligent could say something also very intelligent and witty about the middle Eastern peace process being solved through food.  Suggestions on a postcard, or comment, best one wins points.  International relations aside, it is a fantastic book, with inspiring recipes, prose and photographs.  The Middle Eastern style is both comfortingly familiar and exotic.  It is also very easy to follow and so far, foolproof.

As far as I am aware, the best Florentines in the world are made by my grandmother.  Parkways are pretty good too.  I am not trying to do any kind of Florentine coup d’état with these, as you will see from the recipe, they are different (and suitable for Passover, which was a nice surprise).  Traditional Florentines are condensed milk/caramel-y based and filled with lovely treats like pink glace cherries, crunchy around the edges, piled and squidgy in the centre.  These ones are much simpler, they are not pretending to be the real deal, nor a cheating version.  They are delicious though, and on the ease vs. taste scale, they score incredibly high.  They look beautiful, taste complex and indulgent, and are incredibly easy and quick to make.

In my family Passover is pretty much the only time that we make cookies, and so we have a few sheets of silicone paper, cut to fit oven trays.  Essentially it is like the best greaseproof paper ever, and it is washable.  The Florentines and macaroons (recipe to follow soon) came off the paper with the slightest nudge, fantastic!  If you do not have this use the vegetable oil method as described in the recipe below.

Makes about 20 time: 25 mins difficulty 2/5

260g Flaked almonds
2 egg whites
Zest of 1 orange (or more, if you want)
100g icing sugar
About 75g dark chocolate (melt the chocolate very carefully.  whatever you do, do not allow the chocolate to seize at all, you want a perfectly glossy finish).

Preheat the oven to 150c.  Line a heavy baking tray with baking parchment and brush lightly with vegetable oil.  Next to you have a small bowl of water.

Put the egg whites, icing sugar, flaked almonds and orange zest in a bowl and gently mix together.  Dip your hand in the bowl of water and pick up portions of the mix to make little mounds on the lined tray, well spaced apart.  Dip a fork in the water (or use a finger) and flatten each biscuit very thinly.  Try to make them as thin as possible without creating too many gaps between the almond flakes.  They should be about 8cm in diameter. 

Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, until the Florentines are golden brown.  Check underneath one to make sure they are cooked through.  Allow to cool, and then remove gently using a palette knife if you need to.

The recipe suggests brushing them with some melted dark chocolate as an optional extra, I say that it’s a must.

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