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Christmas baking: Edible gifts

If you enjoy baking then giving someone an edible gift you have made for Christmas always goes down well. I have just made a huge batch of florentines to give as presents. It's not clear what the origin of these little biscuits are, most likely French rather than Italian, but to me they are a typically festive biscuit.

They are easy to make and taste delicious. I am just amazed that these ones didn't all disappear before they got wrapped up to give away.

All you need to turn your homemade biscuits into a fabulous gift is a bit of thought with how you present them. I got some boxes and paper from Hobbycraft which are meant for just this type of thing.


So if you would like to make some, read on. For about 30 florentines you will need:

50g (2oz) unsalted butter, 50g (2oz) caster sugar, 25g (1oz) chopped pistachios (shelled), 25g (1oz) chopped walnuts, 25g (2oz) flaked almonds, 50g (2oz) candied peel, 50g (2oz) glace cherries, 1 tablespoon double cream, 75g plain chocolate, melted, 75 g white chocolate, melted.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the sugar. Bring to a fast boil and take of heat. Mix in the nuts, candied peel, cherries and cream.

Line some baking trays and drop a small amount of the mixture onto the trays. You don't need as much mixture as you would imagine as it will spread while baking and they should end up lacy rather than solid biscuits.

Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 5-6 minutes. Do keep an eye on them as they can easily burn. I cooked mine in an Aga, top oven with the cold shelf above, for 9-10 minutes. When I got them out of the oven, I pushed the mixture back into biscuit shapes before it cooled as it does spread a lot.

Leave to go cold on the trays before lifting them off with a fish slice.


When they are cool, spread the melted chocolate on the back of each florentine and leave to set. The dark chocolate sets quicker but the white takes a while so I put mine in the fridge.


Florentines freeze well so you can make them in advance. Otherwise, they will keep in the fridge for a few days until you are ready to put them in your chosen box and hand them to the hopefully grateful recipient.


Only thing now is, I promised I would make another batch for the family so I don't think I will be escaping from the kitchen any time soon!

Christmas at Castle Howard

Christmas crafting: part two - reindeer decorations