Today, on the tour for Vanessa Greene’s new book ‘The Seafront Tea Rooms’, Vanessa and I talk about our favourite recipes. Vanessa has provided the recipe for Charlie’s Deliciously Indulgent Florentines and in turn give out the recipe for Blondie Cupcakes from Marian Keyes recipe book, ‘Saved By Cake’. So here goes!
Thanks for inviting me here to the Handwritten Girl blog today. As I write autumn has well and truly arrived, the rain is pouring down outside, and I think it’s high time for a chat about the cheering qualities of comfort food. Plus, apparently it’s Chocolate Week. I don’t know who invents these things, but I’m glad they do. So, let’s get to it.
My latest novel, The Seafront Tea Rooms, is about the joy of finding a special hideaway that you only want to share with the closest of friends. Letty’s tea rooms on the windswept South Bay in Scarborough are a haven for Kat, Charlie and Seraphine, three very different women who’ve all reached a crossroads in their lives. What brings them together? Well, one of the things is a love of good cake. Seraphine is an au pair from France, whose passion for pastry-making has been with her since childhood, Charlie is an enthusiastic food critic, and Kat is a talented baker who has shelved her ambitions since having her young son.
They band together to help Charlie write an article about Britain’s best tea rooms, and from York to Whitby sample freshly baked scones and delectable raspberry macaroons. One of my favourite afternoon tea treats are Florentines – the mix of delicate ingredients with a good dose of chocolate. The great thing about these is that whether you’re a perfectionist who ends up with perfect discs, or a novice baker who doesn’t mind a few rough edges, they will end up tasting just as good.
Love, Vanessa x
Charlie’s Deliciously Indulgent Florentines
90 g/2 ½ oz butter
100 g/4 oz caster sugar
100 g/4 oz flaked almonds, chopped
50 g/2 oz sultanas
6 glace cherries, chopped
25 g/1 oz cut mixed peel
15 ml/1 tbsp single cream
175 g/6 oz plain chocolate
Oven: 350 ºF/180 ºC/Mark 4 for 10 minutes
Makes 12 Florentines
You’ll also need: three baking sheets, parchment paper, palette knife/spatula.
1. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Melt the butter in a large pan and stir in the sugar. Boil them together for one minute, then remove the pan from the heat.
3. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except for the chocolate.
4. Drop small rounded heaps of the mixture on to the baking sheet, keeping them far apart, one in each corner, as they will spread quite a lot.
5. Bake until they are golden.
6. Using your palette knife or spatula, nudge the Florentines into their classic circular shape, then leave them to harden for five minutes.
7. Transfer them to a wire rack, taking care not to break them.
8. Leave them to cool.
9. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.
10. Coat the flat side of each Florentine with chocolate, then trace a fork over it to make the distinctive wavy pattern.
11. Leave them to set.
Blondie cupcakes are brownies with white chocolate.
Makes 12 Cupcakes
300g white chocolate
100g macadamia nuts or hazelnuts
100g soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
180g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1. Line one or two 12-hole cupcake trays with paper cases and preheat the oven to 170C /325F /Gas 3.
2. In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of hot water, gently melt the butter and 200g of the chocolate, remembering that white chocolate burns easily. Keep an eye on it and stir often.
3. Roughly chop the remaining the 100g of white chocolate and the macadamia nuts and set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate/butter mix.
4. Sieve in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold through. Gently stir in the remaining chocolate and nuts.
5. Divide the mix among the paper cases and bake for 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack and then serve.
You can buy The Seafront Tea Rooms from Amazon and is also available to buy from good bookshops.