Tuesday, February 17, 2015

High Tea vol 3: Florentine biscuits, plus Chocolate sauce (to serve with Madeleines)

So... remember how I was posting about that High tea?

This is the third instalment.

So far we've had :
Which  means I have left the Chocolate sauce for the Madeleines, and the Florentine biscuits.

That'd be this post. (Which I'd like to subtitle the Good and the Ugly).

If you want the recap of the full menu see the first post here.

Chocolate Sauce (as recommended for madeleines)

Heston Blumenthal at Home
I made Heston's madeleines once before, and was under-whelmed with the effort-to-result ratio. This time I used Stephanie Alexander's recipe from the Cook's Companion, 2nd ed. (For those international people reading along, this would be arguably be the most authoritative and well regarded Australian cookbook.) These were lovely. But, I still wanted to try that Heston chocolate sauce. And I'm so glad I did.



  1. Bring water, coffee beans, cocoa powder and salt to a simmer. Take off the heat to infuse.
  2. Heat the sugar in a pan into a dry burn caramel.
  3. Pour in the water mix, stir.
  4. Add chocolate.
  5. Sieve, cover and cool.
So, a few steps we are well familiar with by now.


Assemble your ingredients

I'm sure I've mentioned before, but do use the best quality, dark dutch cocoa. It makes the world of difference over the dodgy light-brown chocolatish-flavouring cocoa.

Bring water, coffee beans, cocoa powder and salt to a simmer, then take it off the heat and let it infuse.



Heat the sugar in a pan into a dry burn caramel

We've made this a few times now. It's barely scary now.
Put unrefined caster sugar in a pan.
Heat until it starts to melt. Don't touch it before you have a nice layer of caramel under the sugar.

Shake the pan, to move the dry sugar onto the molten caramel parts.

Use a silicone spatula to push any remaining lumps around until melted. Heat until desired colour. Caramel is done.


Pour in the water mix, stir.

It will bubble like crazy due to the molten caramel - don't scald yourself!

Add the chocolate lumps.

They will melt nicely..


Sieve, cover and cool

Sorry, I didn't take a picture of it served. It looked prettier than this, or at least was in a nicer jug.

Things I learned:

I think I might have found my go-to chocolate sauce recipe. Pretty painless (if you can manage dry burn caramel) and a great outcome.



So, basically this is a chocolate flavoured caramel sauce. Sort of. What it is.. is..  delicious.  Really tasty chocolate sauce. One of my best ever. Just the right consistency, the right amount of bitterness. Loved it.

In addition, I have it on excellent authority that the left overs made a kick-ass chocolate ice cream! So win-win! Which is good, because as usual, it made a LOT of sauce. I'd estimate almost a litre. Which is a lot, even if you really, really like chocolate sauce. On the bonus side, it does keep well. 

Guest opinions:

Very popular. In all forms used - for madeleines, for topping on ice cream, and for the making into ice cream.

Florentine Biscuits

Heston Blumenthal at Home
I'm very partial to Florentine biscuits. Chocolate+caramel+glace cherries = win in my book. But.. well, it was an interesting experience.



  1. Heat creme fraiche, caster sugar, glucose syrup and honey in a saucepan until melted.
  2. Mix the dried fruit and nuts
  3. Pour the molten stuff over the fruit and nut mix. 
  4. Refrigerate for an hour.
  5. Pour the cold mix into a lined baking tray
  6. Bake.
  7. Take it out of the oven and cut out circles, allow to cool.
  8. Melt the chocolate and use it to coat the backs of the biscuits.
So, a few steps we are well familiar with by now.


Assemble your ingredients

Lots of components too this one. Good thing its mostly melt and pour!


Heat creme fraiche, caster sugar, glucose syrup and honey in a saucepan until melted

Three kinds of sugar, one dairy. So that's a balanced meal right?
 So that's easy enough.


Mix the dried fruit and nuts

Gather all the dried fruit, nuts and a touch of plain flour.
 And mix it up.


Pour the molten stuff over the fruit and nut mix

So far, so good. Easy really.
 Mixed through, looking good.


Refrigerate for an hour

And now on to the apparently pointless. I don't get this bit. Pouring it onto the sheet and then cooling it would make more sense. But no, you leave it in a bowl and refrigerate it.


Pour the cold mix into a lined baking tray

Or rather, since it is now a cold solid mass, scoop it out and spread on the tray awkwardly. Why, oh why, did we not do this when it was warm and molten and easy to work??



Okay all spread out, now into the oven.
Urgh. Because it is one mass, it doesn't heat evenly, since it is caramel/sugar/fruit. So you lose a lot to the uneven heating. I know my oven may be partly at fault, but it just seems a foolish way to cook them. But this isn't even the most annoying difficult part.


Cut out biscuit circles from the warm biscuit mix.

Please excuse the bad photo, but... oh what a pain.

This is what it looked like as I attempted this. Molten-rapidly-cooling stuff, still attached and making dubiously lumpy shapes due to the nuts and fruit not cutting cleanly.

I like my food, particularly for a High Tea, to look pretty. This was the best I could do with cutting neat circles. I cannot express effectively just how annoyed I was at this point. They were taunting my with their lumpy ugliness.

And see that big lump of unusable stuff on the back left. Grrr. More waste.

Only solution? Wait until they are cold, and trim them to better shapes.

Better. But even more wasteful and time consuming.


Melt the chocolate and use it to coat the backs of the biscuits

I did half in milk and half in dark chocolate to cater to more tastes.


And here they are, barely visible on the top row.


They tasted fine. A little thin for my tastes. But too much trouble.

Guest opinions:

Tasty, though not wildly popular.

Things I learned:

Urgh. Painful and so not worth the trouble (as written, anyway).
If I was to make them again, I would take the hot molten stuff, use a thin spatula to spread it into individual biscuit discs. Then refrigerate and bake - while turning the tray in the oven periodically and watching like a hawk.

Making a sheet of biscuit just gave such a terrible outcome, I would not do it again. Plus making individual discs would not waste so much mix! It didn't seem to spread at all during baking - which I suspect was a function of the refrigeration before baking - so no need for the mass lump and associated painful biscuit cutting after the fact.

At least the sauce made up for it.

Next time: I had another high tea, and this time there was Heston lemon tart!

1 comment:

  1. Another great post. Love the detail and the honesty as always.

    I'v had a go at both of these. We made the caramel chocolate sauce to go with Heston's cheesecake recipe and we absolutely loved it (although raspberry coulis got voted higher on the day).

    I also had a go at the florentines once, as a gift for someone at work. What an absolute disaster! Yours looked a LOT more successful than mine did, but I think we encountered every problem that you had. There's no part of the recipe that doesn't seem like it's trying to make things easy or avoid waste. (In the end we bought a box of fancy florentines to give as a gift, and the trip plus biscuits cost less time and money than this recipe does!).

    Great post as always, look forward to hearing how the lemon tart went!