Valentine’s Day 2019: How to make raspberry, cherry and pistachio florentines

Florentines are a wonderfully rich sweet treat: chewy in the middle with delicately crispy and caramelised edges. 

This version, although not claiming to be healthy, does boast a few extra benefits due to the addition of nutrient rich seeds, in this case pumpkin and flax seeds.

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium and are very high in zinc, which helps to boost your immune system. 

They also contain tryptophan, which is said to encourage good sleep – and who doesn’t need that? Flax seeds are jam-packed with antioxidants and are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid which can improve cardiovascular health.

The base of these florentines are covered with a blanket of rich dark chocolate, a powerful source of antioxidants.

Dark chocolate has a more bitter taste than milk chocolate due to the higher levels of cocoa and lower sugar levels, but this bitterness offsets the intense sweetness of the florentines perfectly.  

The bright green and pink of the chopped pistachios and freeze-dried raspberries embedded in the chocolate, not only bring splashes of colour but also add more levels of flavour. 

And the rose petals… well, it is the season of love. So this 14 February treat your Valentine to these hand-made delicious and healthy-ish biscuits. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Raspberry, cherry and pistachio florentines

Makes 18-20 florentines

For the florentines

25g butter
50g caster sugar
25g dark muscovado sugar
1 tbsp runny honey
10g plain flour
65g creme fraiche
Splash of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
70g pistachio nut kernels, chopped
10g flax seeds
20g pumpkin seeds
50g dried raspberries, chopped
50g dried cherries, chopped

To decorate

100g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
Freeze-dried raspberries
Dried edible rose petals

Preheat your oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Put the butter, sugars, honey and flour into a saucepan and heat on low, keep stirring until the mixture has completed melted and is smooth and lump free. Allow to bubble away gently for about a minute.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully add the creme fraiche, a little at a time. The mixture will bubble and spit with each addition but will calm down if you keep stirring. Now add the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt and stir through.

Tip in the nuts, seeds and dried fruits and mix well to combine.

Drop heaped teaspoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and push down, with the back of a teaspoon, into a heart-shaped cutter to form a neat heart leaving a 2-3cm gap in between each spoonful as they will spread while cooking. Bake on the middle shelf for 10 minutes or until they are golden. Take them out of the oven and, being careful because they will be very hot, tidy up the heart shapes with a small pallet knife before they start to set. Leave to harden for a couple of minutes and with the pallet knife transfer the florentines to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, break the chocolate into small pieces, place into a microwaveable bowl and put in the microwave. Heat on high for 30-40 seconds to begin with. Remove from the microwave and stir.  Repeat, heating at shorter intervals, 10-15 seconds, stirring in between, until the chocolate has completely melted.

When cool, turn the florentines over and spread a teaspoon of melted chocolate over each of the bases. When all the florentines are coated, and before the chocolate has set, sprinkle with the chopped pistachios, freeze-dried raspberries and edible rose petals.

Leave the florentines to cool completely then pack into air-tight containers to keep them fresh.

Perfect served with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and, although florentines are not known for their dunkability, if you are quick you may get away with it.

Follow Beverley Hicks @littlechelseakitchen

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