Panforte is deliciously sweet, rich, chewy, and full of all the ingredients I love in a dessert – chocolate, spices, nuts and dried fruit.
It’s such a simple treat to make and a homemade version is far superior to any store-bought one. It will last for several months if stored in an air-tight container and so makes a lovely gift for the Christmas season. It will last well into the new year; long after the extravagance of Christmas and inevitable but hastily made new year’s resolutions have been forgotten. Panforte is also a great make-ahead dessert to serve at the end of an lavish Christmas lunch. Serve the panforte in small wedges with a fortified wine, Italian liqueur or espresso coffee.
I have found most panforte recipes to be quite similar; varying only by the type of fruit or nuts used. One ingredient which is often omitted, but one which is so essential, is black pepper. Black pepper give the panforte a noticeable, but pleasantly tolerable, heat and saves it from being overwhelmingly sweet.
The recipe below comes from Gourmet Traveller. I like this one the best as I like the combination of nuts and fruit however feel free to adjust this to your preferences. My only change to the recipe is the addition of a generous amount of black pepper. One and half teaspoons may seem excessive but trust me it is just the right amount!
I would have liked to have shared with you a picture of a slice of the panforte so that you could appreciate the dense, nutty filling. However, it is school holidays and this is all I could manage with two small children underfoot.
This is my last post before Christmas so I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you very much for reading! I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe festive season!
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
A sugar thermometer is required for this recipe.
2 sheets of confectioner’s rice paper*
85g (3/4) plain flour
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsps freshly ground black pepper
190g (1 cup) whole dried figs, stalks removed, sliced
110g (3/4 cup) roasted hazelnuts, skins removed, roughly chopped
120g (3/4 cup) roasted almonds, roughly chopped
100g (3.5oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped
finely grated zest from one large orange
150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
150g (1/2 cup) honey
To serve – icing sugar to dust
Preheat oven to 150C/300F. Lightly grease a 20cm (8 inch) springform cake tin. Line the base with the sheets of rice paper; overlap the pieces slightly and trim the excess.
Sift the flour and spices; add the chopped figs, nuts, chocolate and orange zest. Stir to combine.
Heat the sugar, honey and 2 tbsp of water in a saucepan; stir until the sugar has dissolved. At this point stop stirring. Boil until it reaches the soft ball stage (115C/240F on a sugar thermometer).
Pour the hot sugar/honey mix over the nut mixture and stir quickly and thoroughly until all the ingredients are well combined. Spoon into the prepared tin; smooth the top and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.
To serve, dust generously with icing sugar. Serve small wedges as a dessert with a fortified wine, Italian liqueur or espresso coffee.
* Confectioner’s rice paper may be purchased from specialty grocery stores or selected fancy delicatessens.