4 ounces (115 grams) whole blanched almonds
4 ounces (115 grams) whole hazelnuts
4 ounces (115 grams) shelled Brazil nuts
4 ounces (115 grams) candied and chopped fruit
8 ounces (227 grams) glace cherries
1/3 cup (45 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) honey
Chocolate Coating: (Optional)
3 ounces (90 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable oil or Shortening
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until fragrant and the skins begin to flake. Remove from oven and place the hot nuts in a dish towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts sit (steam) for 10 minutes then briskly rub the nuts in the towel to remove the skins. Let cool and then coarsely chop. Set aside.
To toast the almonds and brazil nuts: bake for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool before chopping coarsely. Set aside.
Rinse and dry the candied fruit and glace cherries and place in a large bowl, along with the nuts. Add the flour and spices (if using) and stir until all the fruit and nuts are coated with the flour.
In a small saucepan, warm the sugar and honey over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the honey mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and stir to combine. Spread into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Once the Florentine has completely cooled, melt the chocolate and vegetable oil in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Spread the melted chocolate over the Florentine and let set before cutting into small wedges. Will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Serves 12 - 14 people.
Florentines are a delicious mixture of toasted nuts and candied fruit that are coated with a sweet sticky mixture of honey and sugar and baked until golden brown and bubbly. The crowning touch is a layer of melted chocolate.
When you hear the name 'Florentine', you instantly think it must be from Florence Italy. Unfortunately, history does not tell us its true origin. What we do know is that this confection is popular in Europe and that there are different forms of this sweet confection. I have enjoyed it as a cookie, a bar (square), and in cake form. My introduction to Florentines was at a week long patisserie course in London. Our instructor made them in bar form. They consisted of a layer of pre baked pastry, topped with the nut and candied fruit mixture, and finished with melted chocolate. Next I enjoyed a Florentine cookie; a thin caramelized disc of candied fruit and nuts also with a layer of chocolate on one side. And then I found this Florentine recipe in an Italian cookbook by Ursula Ferrigno called La Dolce Vita. This Florentine I could not resist; a thick layer of caramelized fruit and nuts that is baked in a cake pan and finished with a layer of melted chocolate. Besides being much easier to make than the other two forms, this Florentine is lovely to look at, and even better to eat. It reminds me of another popular Italian confection, Panforte.
Since Florentines contain candied fruit and glace cherries this confection is especially popular during the holiday season. If you want to make it other times of the year you may want to stock up on candied fruits in December, as they are often hard to find other times of the year.