Florentine Biscuit Bars

We’re back for the Bake Off Bake Along! The first week was Cake Week and I baked my Chocolate Hazelnut Battenberg Cake before the series began and somehow I managed to predict the challenge before the series started so we’re starting with Biscuit Week! We saw Lottie got the first Hollywood Handshake of the series for her Florentines and we saw Dave wow the judges with his first place finish in the macaroon Technical and his Taco Showstopper. For the Bake Along, I decided to put my typical Andrew in the Kitchen twist on the Signature Florentine Challenge – and these are my Florentine Biscuit Bars!

I’m not sure whether you can call the caramel mixture on top of the shortbread base a Florentine mixture but I really think that the combination of the caramel with the honey and deep flavour of the muscovado sugar with the crunch of the chia and sesame seeds, the chopped almond and pistachios and the chewy and sweet glacé cherries is very Florentine-esque! Unlike a Florentine biscuit, the caramel mixture here is not a snappy caramel, instead it’s a chewy caramel thanks to the addition of honey and double cream in the mixture. 

If you would like to switch up the fillings for the Florentine mixture, you can do so! Walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews or macadamia nuts would also work fantastically here, just make sure that you replace the nuts with an equal weight of nuts. I like to use the chia seeds and sesame seeds as they remind me of seed brittles and I like how they coat everything so nicely when they are mixed in the caramel mixture. For the caramel, I use dark muscovado sugar for its deep and rich molasses flavour and for colour. 

Check out my other recipes which use almonds:

Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Passionfruit Raspberry and Almond Layer Cake

Teatime Malted Milk Cake

For the shortbread base:

  • 120g margarine
  • 60g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 180g plain flour

For the florentine mixture:

  • 50g margarine or unsalted butter
  • 75g soft dark muscavado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 3 tbsp runny honey
  • 75ml double cream
  • 125g whole almonds, roughly chopped
  • 25g roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 50g glacé cherries, roughly chopped
  • 15g chia seeds
  • 20g sesame seeds
  • 15g desiccated coconut
  • 10g ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment that lines the base and the sides of the tin.

Cream together the margarine with the granulated sugar and almond extract until it is well mixed and a bit lighter. Add in the plain flour and mix together until it has the appearance of breadcrumbs; if you clump some of the mixture together, it should form a dough that crumbles quite readily.

Tip the mixture into the lined tin and using your hands or a spatula, press down the shortbread into an even layer. Use a fork to prick holes in the shortbread to prevent it from rising. Bake the shortbread for about 20 minutes until the surface has turned golden brown and the surface has begun to set.

While the shortbread is baking, prepare the florentine topping by putting the margarine, dark muscovado sugar, honey and double cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium heat, stirring and scraping down the sides of the pan every so often.

When the mixture has boiled, allow to boil for a couple of minutes or until the mixture reads 107˚C. Remove the mixture from the heat and add in the rest of the ingredients for the florentines (the chopped nuts, the dried fruit and the seeds) and stir with a wooden spoon until everything is coated evenly.

When the shortbread has baked, pour over the florentine caramel nut mixture evenly over the shortbread, spreading out the mixture in an even layer. Return the whole thing to the oven to bake for a further 15 – 20 minutes or until the caramel has darkened slightly and the mixture has set.

Leave to cool in the tin until the florentine has set and then lifting out the whole slab onto a cooling rack to cool fully. Use a sharp knife to cut up the traybake into 16 bars; the caramel is soft enough where you can easily get equal squares.

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Make sure to check out my other recipes for the Bake Off Bake Along:

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