Panforte is a delicious Italian sweet filled with dried fruit, nuts and a hint of chocolate. It’s a favourite at Christmas time and is often given as a gift. It’s perfect with a post dinner coffee or tipple, or as a sweet companion on a cheese platter. I found this recipe in a local paper years ago but have not made it until now.
The ingredients are expensive, so it’s not something I would regularly make. But Christmas is special and gifts made with love are worth every penny.
- 100g almonds (can be blanched or skin on)
- 100g hazelnuts with skins removed
- 60g pistachios
- 90g dried figs
- 50g dried apricots
- 50g mixed peel
- 115g plain flour
- 2 tblsp cocoa
- 1 tspn ground cinnamon
- 80g caster sugar
- 150g honey
- 60g dark chocolate
This recipe takes a lot of preparation and it’s a very good idea to get your scales out and weigh all your ingredients before you do anything else…it’s what fancy chefs call mise en place (putting in place).
After you have weighed all your ingredients, roast the nuts in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for 10 minutes. While the nuts are roasting, sift your flour, cocoa and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir through. Roughly chop the dried fruit and add them to the flour mix.
Once the nuts have cooled a bit, roughly chop them and also add them to the flour mix. Stir through so that all your ingredients are nicely coated. Keep the oven on, but reduce the temperature to 160C.
In a small saucepan add the sugar and honey and bring it to the boil on the stove. Continue boiling for a few minutes, but make sure it doesn’t burn. While the honey and sugar are boiling, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 50 seconds.
Once the sugar is ready, take it off the boil and add the melted chocolate and stir through. Then add it to the flour/fruit mix and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. The hot sugar mix will start to seize as soon as it comes in contact with the flour mix, so mixing fast is crucial.
Once it is all combined scoop it into a square 20cm/8″ cake tin and press it down. Once it has cooled a bit you can use your hands to squash it into place. I also used another 20cm cake tin to squash it down some more.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin before removing. Slice into strips and then into squares, rectangles or triangles. Dust with icing sugar. You can store them in an air tight container until you give them as gifts.