Part of the holiday joy for me is to make food gifts for my friends and family. I like to make French chocolate truffles and my French chocolate mendiants, and these Chocolate Florentins are also among my favorites.
Florentins are small disks of slivered almonds and candied fruits, baked together with sugar, honey, and a bit of butter and cream. Once cooled and hardened, these rounds are often dipped in chocolate.
I have had difficulty tracing the origin of the name, but they seem to have been invented by a pastry chef in Versailles at the time of Louis XIV, and named in honor of the Medicis who were then visiting from Florence.
More importantly to me, they were one of my sister‘s favorite things to buy at the corner boulangerie when we were younger and we purchased our goûter together after school. The ones she used to get were large, about the size of a hockey puck, but florentins can also be made bite-size for gifting.
I package up my florentins in little crystal bags tied shut with a ribbon, and put them at the foot of the tree for my family on Christmas morning. They are much enjoyed with coffee after Christmas lunch: pretty little confections that crunch and stick and melt, delivering their tiny jolts of buttery, fruity, nutty, and sweet flavors.
- 150 grams (1 cup) assorted dried fruits or candied fruits (orange rind, apricots, raisins, dried blueberries...)
- 100 grams (3/4 cup) slivered almonds
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) other nuts, chopped (pistachios, hazelnuts...)
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) whipping cream
- 75 grams (1/3 cup) sugar
- 25 grams (2 tablespoons) maple syrup or honey
- 60 grams (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
- Fine sea salt
- 100 grams (2.5 ounces) dark chocolate (I use Manjari 64% couverture chocolate)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F), and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or use a silicon tray for mini-tartlets or petits fours).
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the fruits, almonds, and nuts.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, heat the butter, cream, sugar, and maple syrup until the sugar is completely melted and the mixture is just simmering.
- Whisk in the flour. Fold in the fruits and nuts with a wooden spoon.
- Use two spoons to form small mounds of this mixture on the cookie sheet. Flatten the tops slightly.
- Put into the oven to bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.
- When the florentins have completely cooled, melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water).
- Dip the bottom of the florentins in chocolate, holding them carefully by the sides, and leave on a sheet of parchment paper or a feuille guitare (a special sheet of food-safe plastic that chocolate makers use to ensure a shiny finish to the chocolate) until set.