Friday feeling: florentines

Sticky, nutty biscuits from Monmouth: the perfect pairing for their acclaimed coffee

Small, brown, tucked unassumingly between the till and the milk jug, you could be forgiven for overlooking Monmouth’s florentines, or dismissing them as the dull option next to the big bowl of chocolate truffles besides them. Look closer, however, and you’ll find these nutty, knobbly, currant-studded numbers are far more than just flapjack gone awry. They are Delia Smith’s favourite biscuit: a bold claim from someone who made her name in classic, British, home fare. But Delia has hidden depths, and so do florentines.

Speaking to the pastry chef who makes Monmouth’s florentines and delivers them each morning, our eyes are opened to the number of ingredients and the number of steps involved. To list them all, of course, would be telling. Suffice to say that as well as a sticky, syrupy mixture of sugar, honey and double cream, boiled and stirred together, there is studded through it a sharp, nutty jumble of almonds, hazelnuts and mixed citrus peel. They are baked at 170C for just 18 minutes then, when the florentines are cool and hard, they dip them in tempered dark chocolate to create a half moon of gleaming ebony across the sunshine of toasted nuts and peel.

Smooth and creamy richness
They are, of course, perfect with a coffee: a cappuccino was our go-to, its smooth and creamy richness the perfect foil to the shards of nuts, bitter-sweet citrus and candied coating. We were divided on the dunking, some enjoying the melding of dark chocolate into hot milk, some preferring to retain the crunch. They are strong enough to stand up to even the richest of Monmouth’s roasts, so don’t defer to a cup of tea. That’s what digestives are for. But as Delia knows, when it comes to biscuits, florentines are infinitely superior.