Don’t be scared of this recipe. It’s much, much easier than any non-vegan Florentine I’ve ever attempted, and tastes just as good. Though I might use a bit more in the way of fruit and nuts next time.
This recipe is based on a recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar – the recipe was for macadamia lace cookies, and I looked at the picture and thought, ‘That looks like a proto-Florentine to me’. And then I thought ‘Hey, I bought a whole lot of glacé fruits and also some pistachios yesterday… and I still have some Lindt chocolate and a bag of macadamias in the pantry…’
And really, that was the end of that. My sister in law wanted vegan desserts for tomorrow – clearly vegan Florentines must be on the menu.
The amazing thing about these Florentines is how buttery they taste and look, despite having no butter, nor any kind of weird margariney proto-butter. Mine are a little lop-sided, but if you were the kind of person who likes to make their biscuits super-pretty, you could have at them with a round cookie cutter halfway through baking, to shape them.
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100 g macadamias
135 g brown sugar
3 tbsp (45 ml) canola oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar (this is the equivalent of four tablespoons – if you measure the oil first, and the agave next, the agave won’t stick and it will take the last of the oil with it)
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
65 g flour
1/2 tsp cornflour
pinch of salt
50 g chopped glacé cherries
50 g chopped pistachios
25 g chopped glacé ginger
50 g chopped glacé apricot or pineapple150 g good dark chocolate
Now what will you do with it?
Grind your macadamias into crumbs in the food processor. Note that you will not be able to get them into a meal, so don’t try – they would rather turn to butter, and that isn’t what you want. Coarse breadcrumb texture is good.
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C, and line four baking trays with paper. You’re going to be doing this in batches, so be ready for that.
Beat together the brown sugar, oil and agave nectar with the water and vanilla, until well combined – I’m not sure if emulsified is the right word, since it seemed way too easy for emulsified, but you really don’t want the oil and sugar being separate entities.
Beat in the flour, cornflour and salt with the macadamia crumbs, and mix well. You should have something that is nice and thick and caramel coloured, but more batter than dough.
Stir in the chopped glacé fruit and nuts.
Use a teaspoon to make little blobs of batter spaced a long way apart on your baking trays. Six or eight per baking sheet is plenty. Remember that these things will spread out to be almost flat, and allow space for this. I found that I got about 32 Florentines from this amount, which meant that I ran out of baking sheets.
Bake two baking sheets of biscuits at a time for approximately 7 minutes each, swapping the trays around halfway through cooking.
You are looking for the biscuits to be bubbling and golden-brown at the edges – too pale and they will be teeth-pullingly chewy, too dark and they will just be burnt. So keep an eye on them, and work out what time they need in your particular oven.
As each batch is done, cool it on the tray for five minutes then transfer entire sheet of baking paper onto a wire rack to cool. Trying to get these biscuits off the baking paper while still warm is a recipe for broken biscuits and burned fingers.
When the biscuits are completely cold, remove them from the baking sheets and turn them upside down.
Melt your dark chocolate, and spread it thinly over the back of each biscuit. Yours should look better than mine, because I only had 100g of chocolate, and it really wasn’t enough. It’s nicer if you can spread the chocolate all the way out to the edges.
Serve to your friends – vegan or non-vegan – they will never know…
You could, of course, use any combination of glacé or dried fruit and nuts that appeals to you. I suspect you could get away with upping the fruit and nut content by 50% or even doubling it, but try with 50% first. And make sure your fruit isn’t going to burn easily.
While this recipe does contain gluten, it doesn’t actually use much flour, and would probably work well with a gluten-free flour mix, or even quinoa flour. I just wasn’t game for the risk with Christmas tomorrow!
And speaking of which – Merry Christmas to you, and I hope it’s a good one!