I’ve been living part-time in Florence for a few months now. I usually walk in touristic streets and less known back alleys with amazed eyes and my nose up in the air, searching for interesting spots. I’ve noticed several new places which are clearly inspired by a fresh style, with a beautiful white light and a young and international spirit. They have a wide offer, including smoothies, home-made chocolate, quality teas and coffees and tempting brioches with a spicy hint which brings you far away from Florence.
I’m instinctively attracted by similar places as I love to be welcomed by a cozy and warm atmosphere. It’s just like traveling somewhere else in the time of a coffee.
Then there are old historic places, the ones you refer to with some reverence, as they have always been there: they served tea and coffee to ladies with precious veil hat and distinguished gentlemen with walking stick. They have witnessed time change and girls shift from smiling shyly behind a cup of tea to taking a snapshot of each cup of chocolate, to share them immediately with their friends.
Right from my first times in Florence as a young girl, having a hot chocolate at Rivoire in Piazza della Signoria has been a special moment. Serious business meetings and first dates have been celebrated at the and tables of this historic café just as whispered chats with friends, accompanied by some almond paste cookies.
The Rivoire has a long and charming history. Enrico Rivoire, who was also mâitre chocolatier for the Savoy royal family, opened his café in Piazza della Signoria in 1872, when Florence was capital of Italy. He offered to his Florentine customers high quality artisan chocolate, produced according to an ancient recipe. The café quickly won the hearts of the Florentines and soon artists, politicians, noblemen and prominent personalities began to meet at the Rivoire, a lounge in the centre of Florence.
Today the Rivoire café is famous for its hot chocolate with whipped cream, which is never too sweet, an intense pleasure elegantly served in china cups, customized with a touch of gold and the lily of Florence. How not to feel immediately a classy lady? Also their pastries are an institution: it is easy to lose yourself in contemplation of their neatly arranged counters overflowing with almond pastries, croissants, fruit tartlets, classic cakes, desserts, pudding and chocolates.
And if you feel like having a drink, Rivoire makes also great cocktails, which you can enjoy sitting at the tables in the square, looking at Palazzo della Signoria, the Neptune Fountain, the Loggia dei Lanzi and the comings and goings of Florentine locals and tourists.
Piazza della Signoria, corner of Via Vacchereccia, 4R – Firenze
www.rivoire.it – firstname.lastname@example.org
Almond paste cookies with pine nuts
Inspired by the hot chocolate I had at Rivoire with my friend Francesca and by the pastries we chose, this Christmas I made several batches of almond paste cookies with pine nuts. You usually find these small almond paste cookies in many Italian bakeries and pastry shops.
I have always loved their nice, round and golden shape, generously covered by pine nuts, a cherished childhood memory. In a child’s powerful imagination they reminded me of little hedgehogs, especially when they were carefully placed in colourful paper cups.
Many friends and family members were gifted a batch of these cookies for Christmas, as almost everyone loves almond paste!
Almond paste cookies with pine nuts
- 160 g 5,6 oz / 1 cup + 1 ½ tablespoons of blanched almonds
- 160 g of, 6,6 oz / 1 1/3 cups unsifted powdered sugar
- 1 whole egg, egg white and yolk separated
- 1 teaspoon of runny honey
- 100 g 3,53 / ¾ cup of pine nuts
- Blend the almonds until you get a fine flour.
- Mix the almond flour with powdered sugar, honey and egg white and knead on a marble or wooden surface until you get a thick and homogeneous dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for a few hours or until the next day.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and heat the oven to 190°C (gas mark 5, 375°F).
- With the help of a spoon and wet hands, form small balls of almond paste, big as a walnut.
- Dip them in a beaten egg yolk, then cover them with pine nuts, pressing well with your hands to make them stick to the surface.
- Put the almond pastries in small paper cups and lay them on a baking sheet.
- Bake the pastries for about 15 minutes, until they are lightly golden.
- When you remove them from the oven they will still be soft: if they have lost their shape carefully hold them in your hands and press them gently to give them back their nice round shape, then let them cool completely.