Hope your week is going well, guys! Mine is a bit frantic as I am preparing to go away for Xmas so I have plenty of work to do, such is a nature of running a blog – you always work twice as hard before you can take any time off, although that’s true of most jobs, I guess. Despite a heavy workload, we did take yesterday off to go for a walk around Cheddar Gorge as stress was getting the best of me and Duncan had a day of leave he needed to take before Xmas, so we decided that a bit of walking in nature might be a good call. It was, we had a nice time and managed to destress until Duncan checked the news on his phone while we were having a coffee once we came down from the trail.
It is general election time here in the UK on Thursday and the current prime minster, whose right-wing party is sadly poised to win made some pretty hateful comments regarding EU immigrants in a bid to win the Brexit party supporters’ votes. This was the last drop that made us both feel that we made a huge mistake by returning to the UK post-Brexit and we started feeling really ill at ease.
We don’t really want to move again especially that we have just bought our first house together here and are in the process of making it feel like home, but this atmosphere of hate is really getting to us. We both used to love living here and now we are not so sure… It’s not a place where we are welcome anymore and it feels stupid to invest any more of our time and energy here. We spent the evening researching European cities which welcome diversity and while we won’t make any rush decisions, the seed has been planted and if the Conservatives win this election (which is a foregone conclusion) things are only going to get worse.
To distract myself from these upsetting thoughts I’ve made some pretty vegan florentine cookies, which are easy and quick to make, look a picture, are delicious and will make perfect Xmas presents. I’ve made them Xmassy by using cranberries, orange zest, candied ginger and a dash of ground cardamom. These extras are optional and you can sub them with whatever you have handy. Cranberries can be substituted with apricots, figs or sultanas, swap out cardamom for cinnamon or ground ginger and orange zest for lime, lemon zest or extra vanilla, for example. You can make them thicker like I did (it is a little fussier and more time consuming), or simply just spoon the mixture directly on the baking tray and let them spread out a little, then tidy up the edges with a knife while the mixture is piping hot. Once cooled, brush with your favourite chocolate and put in a pretty box for a gorgeous edible gift.
- 45 g / 3 tbsp smooth almond butter* (I used this one) OR 35 g / 3 tbsp refined coconut oil
- 120 ml / ½ cup maple syrup
- 35 g / 2 tbsp coconut cream (from a can)
- 200 g / 2 heaped cups untoasted flaked or slivered almonds
- 40 g / 1/3 cup low-sugar (if available) dried cranberries, chopped small
- 1 tbsp ground (I used golden) flax seeds
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 150 g / 5 oz vegan chocolate
OPTIONAL EXTRAS I USED
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or orange blossom
- zest of 1 orange
- 50 g / 1.75 oz stem ginger in syrup, finely diced
- 1/8-¼ tsp ground cardamom
- Heat up the oven to 180° C / 355° F (no fan). Line a baking tray with a piece of baking paper or grease muffin cups (paper or silicone) with an oil spray.
- Put almond butter (OR coconut oil) and maple syrup in a medium pot.
- Put the pot on a gentle heat, whisk the mixture and allow to heat up until bubbles start to appear.
- Whisk in coconut cream, allow it to melt into the mixture and to come to a gentle simmer again. Simmer gently for about a minute.
- Stir in all the dry ingredients (up to but excluding the chocolate) until they are all coated in the maple syrup caramel.
- Spoon 1 heaped tsp of the mixture at the bottom of the paper or silicone muffin cups and press it down well or directly onto a baking tray lined with a piece of baking paper. If not using cups, make sure to leave plenty of room between the cookies as they will spread.
- Bake until golden, 10-12 minutes for the cups and 8-10 minutes otherwise. Once out of the oven, press the mixture in the cups down so that the cookies are a little more compact and for the freestyle cookies, use a butter knife to tidy up the edges as soon as the cookies come out of the oven (they need to be hot for this to work). Allow them to cool down as they are fragile when warm.
- Once the cookies are cool, melt chocolate slowly over a water bath (make sure that the bowl with chocolate does not touch the water underneath).
- Using a brush, spread the melted chocolate at the bottom of each cookie. Place them in the fridge to set.
Yes, in theory, but I have not done that with this recipe I am unsure about the tin size, 20 cm square is my wild guess. You could also freestyle it, like in this recipe, instead. Hope this helps! Ania
A great 'healthier' version of the original, and delicious too!!
Thank you, but I am not sure what you mean - the conversion is there (I've been providing it for many years now). If you take another look it says, for example: 120 ml / ½ cup maple syrup. Hope this helps! x Ania
Still going to make them again 😊
No, I haven't changed the recipe. I use orange zest in these rather than candied orange but you could use it instead, sure. Hope you'll enjoy them regardless. x Ania
I'm sorry to hear that and I'm not quite sure why this happened. Did you use ground (not whole) flax seeds and did you simmer the sugar and fat to create a caramel of sorts? These two things keep them together. Do you live somewhere with high humidity or at high altitude perhaps? x Ania
Happy to hear you plan on making these - I hope they will hit the spot. I took them out of the cups before dipping (the flatter side) in the chocolate but you could also just drizzle a bit of chocolate on without taking them out of the cups first. They will still be delicious. x Ania
I’m looking forward to trying these florentine’s for my mums birthday next week - they look amazing.
I’m really sorry how this country, it’s government and its ill-educated prejudiced people have made you feel. I am ashamed to be British. My partner and I have had enough of paying our taxes to this right-wing government whose values are totally misaligned with ours, thus, we are hoping to move to NZ.
Whatever you choose/ have chosen to do, I wish you all the best and hope you are happy. There are many Brits like us who are on your side but I bet it’s hard to remember that.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind message. We have not made any decisions yet and since we bought a house, we might give it a bit more time before we do but it does come up in the conversation often. Conservative have made this country so much less pleasant to live in and not only just for us, for certain groups of people who voted for them too. I could rant but I won't, I am sure you know exactly what I mean. You plan sounds amazing (my husband teases me about moving to NZ too, we like their progressiveness and landscape is amazing!) and I wish you and your partner all the best with your move. Oh and I hope that these florentines will make your mum happy on her birthday. x Ania
Just made these, and they are GREAT!!! Added dried apricots, some hazelnuts, and rice malt syrup instead of maple syrup....
Thank you so much for this recipe, and wish you Happy Christmas! Xx
How long do these last? Thinking of making as Christmas pressie!
The honest answer is that I'm not sure, but a few days for sure. Ania
Fan setting automatically increases oven temperature by 20°C / 70°F so I suggest decreasing your oven temperature by that much. Hope this helps! Ania
I grease them lightly! Hope this helps! Ania
I'm not sure, if I am honest. They certainly would have to be chopped small, I imagine as big chunks will cause these cookies to fall apart. It's worth a try! Ania
It should work (I am assuming you mean thick yoghurt like Coyo), but I have not tested it so please use at your peril ;) Ania
They taste perfect! So much better than the one bought in stores!
Thank you so much for all your recipes, I love them!
Waiting for the Waitrose ginger to arrive, I think will be worth the wait. I realize that it is an option but I want to make it the way you do. You were very clear in your reply that I could have used fresh ginger or candied ginger but still, I want to do it your way!
When I finally receive the special jar of ginger and make the cookies, I will let you know how they turned out.
Thank you for all your recipes, keep up to good work!
In the ingredients list for the Vegan Florentines you ask for 1.75 stem of ginger in syrup, where do you find that? Will fresh ginger do? Or candied ginger?
I bought mine in a supermarket (Waitrose, but other UK supermarkets sell it too), comes in a jar. You could use fresh ginger but it is far more potent so you need to judge the amount and yes, candied ginger seems fine too - in fact, it sounds very similar to what I used, except mine was in syrup as opposed to dry. Hope that helps! Ania
Yes, I add it dry, in this particular recipe - it absorbs the moisture from the other ingredients and helps to bind them together in the process. Hope that helps! Ania
When do you remove the paper muffin cups? I made these and they have been cooling for about an hour but are still very fragile. I have not yet added the chocolate. Maybe that will help?
I removed them once the mixture is cold. I found that caramel coating and ground flax do a good job of holding the mixture together, plus pressing the mixture down once baked solidified it further. Hope you got them out of the cups okay in the end... Ania
And I want to add to everyone else's comments re how unwelcome you now feel with Brexit and the election - I'm so sorry. As others have said, many of us are heartbroken that this is how people now feel in this country. The government, the PM and indeed the referendum don't speak for all of us. I'm sorry.
The maple caramel and ground flax make them stick together - the recipe is designed in this way so that there is no need for flour. Did you make any changes to the recipe at all? Ania
Or how long can I store them in the refrigerator? Thank you so much!
I am not sure, if I am honest, as I have not had a chance to try freezing them (my guess is that they will be okay if a little less crunchy) and gave away all of my test bakes immediately. My guess is that they will keep in an air-tight container for 3-4 days. Sorry I cannot be of any more help! Ania
I live in Scotland where it looks like we will reject the UK Tories hateful and hate-filled politics. So many of us fully welcome people from the EU. Hope you can find a way forward, and if you can stand the weather, come and join us here - where veganism is booming too! Cxx
Love those other two immigrants too! Duncan and Tina.
Aw, thank you for your kind words. The results did get me down if I am honest although they were not surprising after Brexit vote happened 3 years ago. I guess I am gutted to discover that this country I made my home all these years ago turns out to have so many racists in it :( I love Scotland - have spent two summers in bonnie Edinburgh in my early twenties and it is certainly a place we were seriously considering before we moved to Bristol, but I am not sure I am cut out for the weather, if I am honest. xx Ania
Maybe, but I don't use honey (it's not vegan) so I cannot be sure. Ania
I feel strongly for you and with you. Being German and having made my life here it is upsetting to see how many people jump on the band wagon, including friends, albeit with the 'oh we don't mean YOU' justification. I do not think anyone can understand how 'we' feel, it is so sad there IS an US and THEM and it's discernable in everyday life. My own father in law is adamant that voting out was the right thing and he does not really listen when I try to explain. I felt truly at home before this fateful vote and now, despite being married to a Brit (which is apparently the solution to any issue) and having teo boys I feel like I cannot settle whilst this whole thing is ongoing... I guess what I'm trying to say is, you're NOT alone and there's good, kind people out there who love our diversity and support us. Much love ❤
I’m equally sorry to hear how our buffoon of a prime minister made you feel ! I’m of second generation Polish descent, and very proud of my heritage....we’re all immigrants in reality. I voted remain and hope to god the Conservatives don’t get in again today!! Stay strong x
The purpose of the coconut cream is to make the mixture more caramel-like. I am pretty sure that Oatly Creme Fraiche or cashew cream would just as well, but failing that just use another tbsp of almond butter or coconut oil. Hope that helps! Ania
Thirdly - my sympathies about the election/Brexit in UK. As I write there's still a chance you won't get Johnson back in. But I understand your fears. We migrated to Australia 25 years ago and have never been more relieved to be not living in Britain. Friends have been getting some hope by canvassing madly, and at least you don't feel so helpless.
Good luck, and if all else fails, eat a plate of Florentines with a nice pot of tea!!
Delicious recipe - thank you.
Something that like Oatly Creme Fraiche or cashew cream would work, but failing that just use another tbsp of almond butter or coconut oil. Hope that helps! Ania