Another Technical Challenge looms and a mix of reactions are heard throughout the tent as Sue proclaims that 18 Florentines will be required. The recipe is one of Mary Berry's and they look rather divine if I must say. A Florentine is a sweet biscuit packed with dried fruit and nuts, slathered on one side in chocolate, and as Mary herself puts it, "are really tricky to make." But of course they are, Mary.
The bakers will be judged based on the following criteria: a lacy biscuit with an even distribution of fruit and nuts, topped with tempered chocolate decorated with a perfect zig-zag.
If you have read any of my previous posts you'll know that the likelihood that I run into an ingredient snag right off the bat is always rather high and Mary's Florentine recipe did not disappoint in this area. Candied peel. Great. Once again, a recipe that the bakers have an hour and fifteen minutes to complete is absolutely going to take the greater part of an afternoon for me. Context clues tell me that this is probably the peel of a fruit that is candied and a Google search confirms - more specifically a citrus peel. I know the grocery store will fail me again and I find a recipe that sounds easy enough thanks to Bright Eyed Baker. To mix it up I make lemon and orange candied peel and spend the next 3ish hours waiting around for my peel to boil and then harden enough to officially call candied. As with the glace cherries in the Cherry Cake technical, I have seen candied peel in stores around the holidays, but you can also make it yourself like I did or purchase online.
The candied peel conundrum is resolved and I have a literal ton leftover that will keep in my pantry for approximately forever. I then hit a minor bump when I see golden syrup on the ingredient list but felt sure that I could actually find this in the grocery store. I did. Actually, I can't lie. I sent my husband to the store with my list and he was actually able to find it, so you know it wasn't difficult to locate. Check your store's international foods aisle or again, pick this up online. You can also substitute the golden syrup with light corn syrup if you absolutely must.
Ok, have we now rectified all our issues? Excellent! Measure all the elements and throw everything in a small saucepan! No, seriously. I know you've just spent hours boiling sugar and citrus peel (the kitchen smells great by the way) and had your husband all over the grocery store (he swore golden syrup would be hanging out with Aunt Jemima), but you're just going to lump everything together and heat it up! I am exaggerating a little, but not much. The mixture comes together in a snap at this point.
The bakers approach this challenge with trepidation as evidenced by Jordan chopping nuts one at a time and Chetna literally beside herself at the thought of making caramel with golden syrup. Richard confirms the belief that using a spoon to spoon the mixture on to the baking sheets is indeed the right method. And everyone gets out the scales to work out how to get exactly 18 biscuits from the mixture. Enwezor truly makes the most atrocious of errors by getting out his biscuit cutter and punching out the whole purpose of a Florentine. The charm! The suspense! No, Enwezor, step away from the biscuit cutter!!!
After baking then came the question of the zig-zag pattern that needed to be created in the chocolate. Martha was the only one to realize the pattern is created by using a fork, but Richard was ultimately the one to come out on top of this Technical.
My Florentines came out of the oven looking large, lacy, and hopefully, crisp. I left them to cool a bit on the pan and then moved to a cooling rack. Next I had to properly temper chocolate. I've melted chocolate before but I have never been careful to properly temper. To do it the right way, you melt most of your chocolate and heat until it reaches 120 degrees F, then throw the rest of your chocolate in and stir until it cools to around 82 degrees F. This is where I stopped and began working quickly to paint my chocolate on to the back of my florentines with a silicone pastry brush. If you really wanted to temper like a pro, you would reheat your chocolate back up to 90 degrees F and maintain there, but I don't have time for that. Applying the chocolate was a mess, but I slabbed it on, waved a zig-zag on with a fork and left them to set overnight. Now, it does not necessarily take overnight for chocolate to set, but by the time I was done it was time for bed and I wanted to walk away from my florentines for the evening.
I woke up the next morning and finally tasted one of these creations. And then I had another. And then resisted the urge to eat another. Listen, I have had many levels of success and failure in just the few challenges that I have completed. The taste of these florentines were hands down the best GBBO bake that I put together. They were crisp, tasted of caramel and chocolate, and the bursts of the dried cranberries and homemade candied peel were everything. This is 100% a must-try recipe and is something that I absolutely will be making again!
Adapted from PBS.org
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/3 cup Sugar in the Raw
- 1/3 cup golden syrup
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/6 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup candied peel, finely chopped
- 1/6 cup almonds, finely chopped
- 1/6 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 cup chocolate chips (70% cacao)
If needed, prepare the candied peel using the recipe from Bright Eyed Baker.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put butter, sugar, and golden syrup in a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour, cranberries, candied peel, almonds, and walnuts. Stir to combine.
This recipe makes 18 total florentines. Spoon 6 teaspoon fulls of the mixture onto a parchment or silicone lined pan, leaving plenty of room between each spoonful, as these will spread a lot. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool on the baking tray before removing using a palatte knife. If they will not release from the tray, return to the oven for a few seconds to soften just slightly. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Place a heatproof glass bowl over a pot of boiling water, careful not to let the water touch the bowl, (or prepare a double boiler) and temper the chocolate by melting half to 120 degrees F. Remove from heat and add remaining chocolate, stirring until chocolate reaches around 82 degrees F.
Using a pastry brush, brush chocolate on the back side of the florentines and then mark with a zigzag pattern using a fork. Leave to set, chocolate side up.