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February is ticking down and when March arrives we can finally think of Spring, and eventually Summer.  My thoughts, like many others, are already drifting to imaginary travel to the UK, complete with dreams of leisurely afternoon tea at some of the  famous tea houses.   Part of Downton Downtime dreaming.

Each Tuesday I dish on Downton Abbey and other topical issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a recipe with an interesting history.  You may find my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea helpful in understanding traditions and recipes to help you host your own tea party with family and friends. For those of you who have just discovered Downton, enjoy the ride but watch out for spoilers.

Today’s treat is Florentine Biscuits, perfect for dreaming of afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason.

Downton Dish


This explains a lot

Abbey Cooks Entertain: Cooking During Downton Downttime


Some Downton fans do needle point, others cook in the off season.  With 220 Downton era recipes, you will want to get this book for recipes for the famous Downton dishes from Season 1-3.  This 432 page ebook sells for only $7.95.  Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to keep bringing you new dishes each week.  You can only get a signed copy here on my site.

If you don’ have an eReader I would suggest the PDF version which can be printed, if you like. 

The Head Cook in Your Own Abbey

Melissa's lovely apple charlotte

Melissa’s lovely apple charlottes

While I am passionate about Downton Abbey, I get really excited when I can inspire others to get into the kitchen to cook real and healthy food, particularly those like Lady Sybil who have no skills, but are eager to learn.  Cooking is a labour of love and sharing that love is so important in building/maintaining relationships.

The Crawleys and servants shared most of their meals together.  It is a shame our busy lives prevent many of us from sitting down together to eat on a regular basis.  Keep sharing your pictures of Downton era foods and I will post here and thank you with a free download of my book.


Florentine Biscuits

Florentines are a delicate tea treat

Florentines are a delicate tea treat

Sometimes it can be challenging to trace our favorite foods to the source. While called Florentines, food historians are not convinced that these popular biscuits came from Florence, Italy.  One story gives credit to the French and not the Italians, tracing the delicate treat to King Louis XIV of France, created in honor of a state visit by the Medicis of Florence.

In any case it is a delicate treat and this particular recipe was inspired by Fortnum & Mason which sells– as well as serves– them in their restaurants.  The toffee crispy taste comes from the butter/sugar combination, so it is not the healthiest of treats so I would put this into the “sometimes” food, but enjoy the pure ingredients and flavours.

Makes 25 biscuits


  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sultana raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped citrus peel
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or use all rice flour)
  • 1/4 unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar (granulated sugar pulsed in a blender)
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 2 tbsp. golden syrup
  • 1 cup quality dark chocolate to finish


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon liner.
  2. Mix the first 6 (dry) ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Combine the butter, golden syrup, molasses, sugar on low heat until the mixture has melted.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly.
  5. Spoon teaspoons of the mixture, well spaced apart on the baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  6. If the cookies have blended you can separate them while they are still hot.  Cool on the sheet and then transfer to a wire rack, lined with a paper towel to absorb some of the oil from the butter.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl placed on top of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water).
  8. Use a pastry brush to paint the bottom of each cookie with chocolate and let set chocolate side up.
  9. Paint another and thicker chocolate layer and make some decorative squiggles or marks with a fork in the chocolate before it sets.

These are best the day you make them but will freeze will enough for your next tea party while you dream of Fortnums.

Fortnum & Mason Books

Great books from the Famous Fortnum & Mason.  My tea book was a gift from a follower last year.