Chef Voula thinks that panforte is an absolute treasure that everyone should make at least once. The classic Tuscan fruit and nut spiced treat, dating back to the middle ages, is traditionally made at Christmas in Italy. It's so incredibly good though, that Chef Voula refuses to wait until the holidays to enjoy it.
This version, made with chocolate, is one she makes often. While the list of ingredients is long, it's really easy to make. Basically, it's a chop, dump and go kind of sensation.
Something else Chef Voula really likes about panforte (there's more?) is that you can easily substitute ingredients for whatever you have in your pantry. As long as you keep the ratio of fruit and nuts the same, you are good to go. Pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, and macadamia nuts are good in this recipe; and dried fruit such as currants, raisins, plums, and blueberries are welcome and tasty swaps.
Makes 10 to 12 servings
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely
½ cup (125 mL) all purpose flour
2 tbsp (30 mL) cocoa powder
½ (2 mL) tsp ground cinnamon
¼ (1 mL) tsp ground coriander
¼ (1 mL) tsp ground ginger
¼ (1 mL) tsp ground nutmeg
¼ (1 mL) tsp ground black pepper
zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
½ cup (125 mL) sliced almonds
½ cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped pistachios
½ cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped peeled hazelnuts
½ cup (125 mL) dried cherries
½ cup (125 mL) chopped dried figs
½ cup (125 mL) chopped dried apricots
¼ cup (50 mL) sugar
½ cup (125 mL) honey
2 tbsp (30 mL) powdered sugar
Heat oven to 325F (150°C). Lightly spray or coat with oil an 8 in (20cm) spring form pan and line base of pan with parchment paper.
Place chopped chocolate into a small bowl or the pot of a double boiler. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir chocolate occasionally, until melted.
Add the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, nutmeg and coriander into a large bowl. Stir using a whisk until well combined. Using a wooden spoon stir the zest of the orange and lemon, nuts and prepared dried fruit into the bowl.
Pour melted chocolate over nut and fruit mixture in bowl.
Set a clean small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and honey to pan. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
Place the caster sugar and honey in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat. Pour the honey syrup into the bowl with the nut and fruit mixture. Mix well.
Spread the mixture into the prepared spring form pan using a spatula, and press it into the pan with your hands to make the surface smooth and even. Bake in preheated for 30 to 35 minutes or until the centre feels set and springy, and dry to the touch. Set aside to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, remove from pan and dust with powdered sugar. Rub sugar into the surface of the panforte with your fingers. Store tightly wrapped in plastic and in a cool dry place for up to one month.
To serve, slice into 10 or 12 wedges. Excellent with coffee or port.