Thursday 20 December 2012

Fruity Chocolate Florentines

After a break from posting recipes,   I'm back with a little treat for you just in time for Christmas.   These fruity chocolate florentines are amazingly quick and easy to make and are particularly good served chilled from the fridge - or even straight out of the freezer!  

Florentines are traditionally full of sugar and cream so, in my recipe, I've reduced the sugar, cut out all the dairy products and added maple syrup, dairy-free dark chocolate and plenty of naturally sweet fruits and nuts.   As it's Christmas, I've added dried cranberries and some naturally red glace cherries but you can use any combination you like!

Ingredients          Makes about 15

55g dairy free margarine
27g light brown muscovado sugar
1 tbsp natural maple syrup
140g mixed dried fruits, cranberries, glace cherries, mixed peel
40g mixed nuts e.g. almonds, brazil nuts, pecan
25g plain white flour
100g dairy free dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/Gas Mark 3

Prepare two baking trays by greasing with a little margarine or use non-stick baking liners. 

Start by placing the margarine, sugar and maple syrup in a saucepan and melting them over a low heat, stirring constantly until smooth.   Remove the pan from the heat. 

Roughly chop the dried fruit and nuts, then add them to the pan with the flour.  Stir well.  

Drop small spoonfuls of the florentine mixture onto the baking sheets allowing plenty of space between them.  They do spread out during baking so, if you don't leave enough room, you'll have one very large florentine instead of about 15 smaller ones!  

Place in the oven and bake for about 10 - 12 minutes until they are golden brown.

Leave for about 3 minutes to harden slightly before loosening carefully with a knife or spatula. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  

If your florentines have merged together whilst baking, they can still be rescued!  As soon as you take them out of the oven, separate them carefully with a knife or scissors and ease them into a circular shape. 

Break up the chocolate into pieces and place in a small bowl.  Microwave until completely melted, stirring frequently to avoid overcooking.
(Alternatively, place the bowl over a small pan filled with a couple of inches of just boiled water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water) 

When the chocolate is glossy and smooth, spread a thin layer over the back (i.e. flat side) of each florentine, using a knife or pastry brush.  If you like, you can make a zigzag pattern using a fork whilst the chocolate is setting.

  Have  a wonderful festive season and see you in the New Year!

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