I spend a lot of time looking at food blogs, dreaming of the things I could make if I had either the time or money (bowls made out of chocolate, anyone?), or just simply adding them to my own internal to-do. It’s proper, good and guilty, old-fashioned food porn. However, today – February 14th – has been a little different. All my favourite blogs have been taken over by a bunch of absolute wetters either writing about the most extravagant, succulent and moist, gag-making aphrodisiacs they first ever bonded over with their partners or writing up patronising recipes for the lucky member of the #lonelyheartsclub to enjoy, indulgently solo. Either way, there’s invariably a lot of chocolate involved.
I obviously realise how bitter this makes me sound. I swear; I’m, like so totally cool, man, about being a single gal about town on V-Day. But seriously – it is, actually, really like any other day for the singleton. In fact, if anything, it is THE day to head out to a cocktail bar and flick the V right back. Bitterness aside, I am really astounded about how much chocolate there is out there on the world wide web today. I’m astounded because everyone in the world, single or spoken for, wants to feel sexy on Valentine’s Day, and a sh*t-load of chocolate has simply never made anyone feel sexy. Ever. Guilty maybe. Sick yes. Sexy no.
The dirty dogs over at www.eatsomethingsexy.com, promoting chocolate as the dopamine-producing love-drug, would undoubtedly disagree with me. And actually, as the following recipe proves, a little bit of what you fancy can do wonders. So here’s one for all the chocolate-lovin’ ladies who don’t want to feel like they’re spilling out over the top of their Agent Provocateur tonight, or for the singleton who would rather not eat themselves into oblivion in the company of a bottle of J.P Chenet and a multipack of Twirls.
These little Florentines are quite unlike the crunchy, caramelly ones that you are probably thinking of, which are equally delicious in their own right. Made with egg whites, these ones are almost more like a macaroon – chewy and meringue-like. They are delicious with coffee, and would make adorable little presents. They are, to boot, incredibly easy to make, but I do warn you now, they are also seriously moreish. Once again, this is an edited version of an Ottolenghi recipe. He originally just uses orange zest (260g almonds, no fruit, no chocolate) but screw it. Go mad.
Happy bloody Valentine’s y’all.
Makes about 20, depending on how big you make them.
- 2 free range egg whites
- 100g icing sugar
- 200g flaked almonds
- 75g dried fruit – chopped sour cherries, chopped apricots, mixed peel, raisins…whatever you fancy
- 2 bars of dark chocolate (70% cocoa). I used orange chocolate, which was especially good.
- White chocolate to splatter if you so wish. It looks dead posh.
- Preheat the fan oven to 150° C, and line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
- In a largish mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg whites with a fork to break them up a little. Carry on whisking, slowly adding the icing sugar bit by bit as you go.
- Add the almond flakes and the chopped fruit into the bowl, and stir well until everything is very well combined.
- With two teaspoons, spoon little blobs of the mixture onto the lined baking tray, with reasonable gaps in between each one. For some reason, some batches of this mixture spread in the oven, some don’t. I have no idea why. Just in case, give these little fellas some room to grow.
- With damp fingers or the back of one of the teaspoons, press each of the blobs out flat, but not so much that gaps appear in between the bits of fruit and nut.
- Bake for between 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your tray/Florentines you may have to do this in batches). I realise this doesn’t sound very specific, particularly for something that can catch so easily, but it really does vary from batch to batch. Just keep an eye on them – you want them to be darkish, golden brown.
- When done, take the Florentines out of the oven and leave them to cool and harden on the tray. If you try and remove them before, they will just ooze and goo and stick to your fingers.
- Once off the tray, while they cool completely, break up the chocolate and melt it in a bain-marie – a heatproof bowl over a saucepan filled with an inch or so of boiling water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl, or that any liquid gets into contact with the chocolate itself, or it will separate. When it has all melted, spread the chocolate over the flat bottoms of the Florentines, and leave them to harden, chocolate-side up.
- Melt the white chocolate in exactly the same way, and flick over the backs of the Florentines using a knife – a bit like flicking a fountain pen and just as satisfying.
- Leave to cool and harden completely before you tuck in. It’s worth it, I promise. The Florentines will keep well in an airtight container for a good few days.