Meera Sodha’s vegan gift recipe for jewelled florentines | Vegan food and drink

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I don’t mind telling you that when I tried florentines for the first time, I ate the whole box. It’s outrageous that a single biscuit can flaunt so many talents simultaneously: shatteringly crisp and lacy edges, a chewy, caramel centre, perfectly roasted nuts, and all slathered in a silky, thin jacket of chocolate. That’s why I think these are one of the nicest gifts I could give someone for Christmas. Unless I eat them all first, that is.

Jewelled florentines

Prep 5 min
Cook 35 min
Makes About 20

You’ll need a large baking tray (I used a 30cm x 40cm one) or two smaller ones.

50g unsalted pistachio kernels, finely chopped
75g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
75g flaked almonds
50g chopped hazelnuts
100g dried cranberries
, or sour berries
2 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75g vegan butter
, chopped
50g soft light brown sugar
50g golden syrup
100g dark chocolate
(suitable for vegans)

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Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 and line a large baking tray (I have a reusable baking mat).

Put the pistachio kernels, crystallised ginger, almonds, hazelnuts and berries in a large bowl. Shake in the flour, salt and cinnamon, and mix well.

In a medium pan that’s large enough to accommodate all the ingredients, heat the butter, sugar and golden syrup on a low to medium heat, stirring, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat and stir in the fruit and nut mixture.

While it’s still hot, tip the mix into the lined tray and spread it out into a 25cm x 35cm rectangle. Press down on the mix with the back of a wooden spoon, so it’s an even layer all over (avoid creating any gaps, though). Bake in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown all over, then remove and leave to set and cool completely.

Once the florentine mix has cooled, break the chocolate into small pieces and put them in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 20 seconds, remove and stir, then repeat in 20-second bursts until the chocolate has almost, but not completely melted – the rest will melt in the residual heat. Using a spoon, drizzle all the melted chocolate Jackson Pollock-style over the florentine mix, then leave to cool and set at room temperature (don’t put the tray in the fridge).

When the chocolate has set, very carefully flip the florentine mix on to a chopping board and either leave on the side with a knife nearby so people can help themselves, or cut into uniform bars and wrap in greaseproof paper secured with ribbon, for gifting.

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