Frankly, I hated them. Blanched almonds didn’t taste great. Plus, they were unseasoned. Not a grain of salt went on them. It was torture for me and, I am assuming, torture for my mother getting me to eat them. Sometimes, I’d tell her to pack them ... that I would eat them on my way to school and three days later she’d find them in my schoolbag, wrapped up in a piece of tissue, rotting. Well, not rotting but definitely past their prime.
After months of trying, mum gave up and she devised other ways of getting me to eat my daily dose of brain food. I must have been truly an under performer for her to go to such lengths. My favouritest of her almond concoctions was a steamed almond pudding that was only slightly sweet but nice and milky. Oh! I think she thanked the heavens when I professed my love for the custard and actually begged her to make it more often.
I don’t know if it improve my academic performance much or at all (unlike my brother who loved to learn, I found studying a chore) but it surely made me love almonds.
This recipe for Florentines is based on one from Ottolenghi, a restaurant in London. The original is flavoured with orange zest and coated in chocolate. I resisted the chocolate as I didn’t want to underwhelm the almonds. And, I omitted the zest as I didn’t have oranges in my kitchen. Still, the Florentines turned out good.
There is nothing complicated about making Florentines: ingredients are few and the process is simple. For such little effort, you get a crunchy, nutty treat that can be eaten at any time.
1 egg white
13/4 cup blanched sliced almonds
1/3 cup icing sugar
pinch of salt
drop of vanilla
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Using a fork or a spoon, lift a portion of the mixture (about a tablespoon's worth) onto the baking sheet and spread it as thin as possible, keeping the almond slices close together.
Repeat, leaving about 1cm gap between each portion.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cookies are cooked through. You can use a spatula or a palette knife to gently lift one cookie to check if the bottom has cooked. They should be a lovely shade of golden when done.
Remove, cool and eat.