Florentines a la Jellybean

Today’s baking adventure is Mary Berry’s Florentines–a traditional nut and fruit cookie with chocolate coating on the back.

Now, this recipe has things that I don’t have….demerara sugar (which I guess you can substitute with turbinado sugar?), golden syrup (and when I first looked at this, I said, ‘is this corn syrup or something else?’), dried cranberries, candied peel, almonds and walnuts….dang.

So, not knowing what golden syrup is, I looked it up.  There’s a guy from Australia or New Zealand who has a recipe for making your own if you don’t have any nearby.  His recipe is essentially caramelized sugar syrup.  So I follow his process and I get…crystalized sugar.  So I try it again…same result.  It didn’t even begin to brown.  Screw it.  I’m getting on Amazon.  Ordered a two-pack that will arrive in a couple days.  I will run to the local grocery store tomorrow to see if they have some in some weird place in the store–like the organic aisle–since I also need to get a few other ingredients for this experiment.

Two days elapse in this time, where I went to another store to find ingredients to make these British delights.  Some of the things have been eluding me in the usual aisles.  A hint from a friend said to check out the “British section” in the Fred Meyer (for those outside of the PNW, it’s a Kroger-owned grocery and retailer–for all your one-stop-shopping needs, from socks and underwear to office supplies–unless you need major appliances or wood products), and I found this:

OK, so not everything you could ever want, but a small selection of goods from across the Atlantic.  Hey, look! Beans!  For beans on toast…bread is in a different aisle.  I bet they have pork in them, though, so not good for me…I’d have to get a vegetarian variety…long story.

Next stop on this wild goose chase was World Market, which had many of the same things as Freddy’s, but had a variety of other things from all over the world, and a few things that Freddy’s didn’t have.  At the end of the day, I came home with these things:

The Tim Tams were for the boy-who-needs-fattening.  He thought they were great and they were all gone within 48 hours.  But look!  In the green bottle!  Golden syrup!  I also got the other ingredients to make the Florentines (nuts, cranberries), but the days were hectic so I had to push the snooze on this for another day.

So my daughter decided she needed to make flan.  Yes, friends, I’m not the only baker in the house.  My 16 year old is a budding baker and she wanted to get extra credit in her Spanish cultures class, so she made flan.  The teacher LOVED it!  But one of the things she needed was to make caramelized sugar.  Frickin’ golden syrup.  So just to see if I could make it at a much lower temperature (thinking maybe I was cooking it too hot), I started it for a third try and got…crystals.  The kid says, “keep cooking it.  It’ll re-liquify and brown.”  I’m like….whaaaaaaat?  She takes over and a few minutes later she says, “See?” and sure enough, golden liquid.

Smart alec kid.

So I pulled out the ingredients for the florentines–including the demerara sugar I found yesterday!  WOOOOOOT!  I couldn’t find anything that resembled candied peel.  I don’t know if that’s something Brits can find at the local grocer’s or if they just make it all the time?  Or maybe I need to go look at some more exotic places, like Trader Joe’s or Central Market?

So to start this recipe, you dice up the dried cranberries and nuts really small–just mince the crap out of them.  Then mix with the sugar, syrup and flour.

I mixed up the ingredients.  It didn’t seem like much.  It said it would make 18 cookies.  You literally need just a teaspoon of the stuff for each cookie.  It spreads out rather dramatically and it smells amazing!  Caramel goodness wafting thru the house…oh my!

The first tray I baked for too long–the directions said 8-10 minutes, so I set it for 9.  Too long.  The second batch I set for 7 minutes….perfect!  Full disclosure:  this is the second tray.

Melted the chocolate chips in a double-boiler–again, the oversize metal bowl over a pan of hot water.  (I still have to go to the second hand store and see if I can find some metal bowls or maybe, by luck, I’ll find a small double boiler.)  I followed Mary Berry’s advise and painted it on using a brush–the same one I have used for BBQ and stuff, but I think I’ll look for a silicone brush tool, or maybe just use a spoon next time.

The final result….delicious!  And I’m not a nut person, possibly because of the texture, so I wasn’t sure I’d like these, but the nuts were minced so fine, they didn’t bother me.

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