This recipe is adapted from the one in the BBC Good Food 25th birthday edition. As soon as I saw the combination of florentines and shortbread I was sold! I always associate florentines with Christmas as that’s the only time of year we ever used to have them; I don’t know whether they have any particular association with Christmas but, growing up, I remember they always used to form part of M&S’s confection/biscuit range. M&S used to make a mixed box i.e. milk, dark and white chocolate. Tactically I would always eat the milk first as I was the only one in my family to like white chocolate so I didn’t have to rush with those!
This is a good recipe to use up all the odds and ends of nuts a baker always seems to have in their cupboard; I buy a bag of nuts for a particular recipe and then don’t use them all. I seem to have endless bags with about 20-30g of nuts left in them – this is where they get to step into the spotlight!
The cherries and pistachios look so pretty in amongst the nuts and chocolate. You could make it look extremely festive by using red and green cherries…although I try not to think too hard about what they do to turn those poor cherries such a vivid green. Some questions are best left unanswered.
For the base:
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g golden caster sugar
200g plain flour
100g ground rice flour
For the topping:
25g unsalted butter
75g golden caster sugar
1 tablespoon plain flour
75ml double cream
50g flaked almonds
25g whole blanched almonds
75g chopped nuts of your choice – I used a mix of pistachios and chopped hazelnuts
75g glace cherries, halved
100g chocolate chips
Line a 20cm square tin with baking papermaking sure the paper comes up high enough that you can use it to lift the finished bake up out of the tin.
Use a food processor to blitz together the butter and sugar.
Add the flour and rice flour and pulse until it starts to come together – don’t overwork it or your biscuit will be tough rather than crumbly.
Press into the base of the tin taking care to distribute the mix evenly.
Prick all over with a fork, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days).
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Bake the biscuit base for 25 minutes.
While the base is cooking start work on the topping: place the butter, sugar and flour in a pan large enough to take all the other topping ingredients and gently melt together stirring all the time.
When all the sugar crystals have dissolved add the cream and stir until smooth.
Stir in all the nuts and cherries.
Stir in the chocolate chips. If you prefer, you can omit the chocolate chips and instead melt the chocolate and drizzle over the baked bars.
Spoon the hot nut mixture over the just-baked base and ensure it is well spread out. Be gentle – a spatula or the back of a spoon works well.
Return to the oven and bake until the top is firm but retains a little squidge; this will take anywhere between 10-20 minutes but it can catch quickly so check every 5 minutes.
Leave to cool, in the tin, on a wire rack.
Cut into fingers.
If you didn’t add chocolate chips, decorate by melting 100g chocolate by your preferred method i.e. microwave or hob, and drizzle over the cold bake. (I like to do this after I’ve cut the fingers as then the chocolate isn’t disturbed with cutting)
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.