They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
The first time I tasted Florentines was in the late 1970s. The husband of a family friend kept a pile in his cookie jar and it was always such a treat when we visited. I'm not sure which bakery he bought them from, but they were they size of my hand and, with an assortment of dried fruits, nuts and rich chocolate coating, they were seriously good.
However, they were also rock solid and, as such, a bit hard to bite into. 'Tooth Crackers', I call them. I've eaten some other 'tooth cracker' biscuits over the years, regretting it instantly when I felt that certain crunch, knowing in my gut that the little nugget I just chomped into wasn't part of the biscuit! Ouch! This unplanned activity has kept my dentist, Dr Fang (true), happy for a time. Needless to say, I've been longing to experiment with my own version of Florentines that are kinder to the teeth.
What's your favourite biscuit, if you have one? I have always adored biscotti (a.k.a. cantuccini), with pistachio and cranberry being my number one pick of flavours. Some of the store-bought varieties are so amazingly firm that they can only be eaten if first dunked in tea or coffee, hence I prefer to bake my own. Although, having said that, whenever I can find Mother Meg's brand locally, I will pick up a pack or two, as they are delicious little morsels.
There is a Lemon Fairy who visits my office. True. And she is such a sweetie! To my huge delight, often when I arrive at work, I find little golden Lemon Fairy gifts left next to my keyboard. And sometimes, the Lemon Fairy leaves a BIG bowlful of lemons in the tea room with a note saying 'Please help yourself'! The Lemon Fairy's tree must be lush and splendid, for I am told that it is sooooooooo heavily laden with fruit, that a branch actually broke clean off (due to the weight of the lemons) and tumbled to the ground. Oh, to have such a bounty in my own kitchen garden.
When my children were little, I was conscious of feeding them as nutritiously as possible. Snacks comprised plates of sliced fresh fruit and sultanas or carrot sticks; and the only biscuits in the house were reasonably low in sugar and fat, and baked by me at home. Chocolate was a treat, or 'sometimes food', rather than a daily given. These days, my son and daughter comment on how much they enjoyed morning and afternoon teatime when they were small.
With my Hungarian, Czech and German background, spicy treacle or honey cakes, such as gingerbread, are a favourite. Peter and I have been taste testing gingerbread biscuits from various market stalls and bakeries recently and we have found that they are either bland or brilliant in flavour, depending on the combination of spices and the recipe used. Quality and freshness of the spices is essential, and I believe it is much better if you freshly grind the spices immediately before use
'Honey, I'm home,' I called out to Peter as I walked through the back entrance. 'Close your eyes, I have a surprise for you,' he responded, taking me by the arm and leading me down the steps, through the hall and into the kitchen. The rich, warm aromas told me immediately that he had been cooking. Woot!? My man had not only spent his one day off mowing the lawns and trimming the shrubbery, he had also become a Domestic God (as in Not Quite Nigel, apologies Lorraine), and turned his hand at baking.
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
Join me as I share with you my favourite recipes; postcards and morsels from my travels; conversations with cookery writers
and chefs; and news on food, cookbooks
- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.