The following recipe is from the December 16 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here!
Panforte is a traditional Italian Christmas sweet. It's the Tuscan equivalent of fruitcake, sweet and spiced with plenty of dried fruits and nuts. Panforte has been made in Siena for hundreds of years, and the shops that produce it guard their secret recipes as closely as national treasures.
It's said that panforte is supposed to made up of seventeen ingredients representing the various districts, or contrade, that make up the city of Siena. This recipe from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson contains only fifteen, but for Lawson it's a sweet reminder of her childhood spent in Italy. It might not be as peppery and potent as the original Italian version, but this version is sweetened by the addition of cocoa. It makes a great accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee or a glass of red wine.
- Yield:approximately 20 very thin slices, perhaps even more
- 1 cup natural almonds, with skins
- 2/3 cup blanched almonds
- 1 cup whole shelled hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped soft dried figs
- 1 1/4 cups chopped candied orange and lemon or citron peel
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Good grating of fresh nutmeg
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- Good grinding of white pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons butter
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of a single 8-inch cake pan with aluminum foil.
Mixed together the nuts, dried fruits and candied peel in a heat-proof bowl.
Add the cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, white pepper and cocoa powder.
Put the sugar, honey and butter into a saucepan and melt together gently.
Take off the heat and pour into the dry ingredients in the heat-proof bowl. Stir slowly and patiently to mix everything together well.
Tip into the cake pan and, using wet hands or wearing vinyl disposable gloves, pat and press down on the top to get as smooth a surface as you possibly can.