By Daniele Foti-Cuzzola
At Christmas time, Italian pastry shops and bakeries produce a number of delicious cakes, pastries and breads that are associated with the birth of Christ. Among the many popular Christmas treats produced at this time, is Panforte, which literally translates to ‘strong bread’. Panforte is a speciality of Siena, Tuscany and dates back to the 13th Century, where it was traditionally given as a gift to Monks and Religious Sisters of local Monasteries. Over time, Panforte became a refined product that was enjoyed by aristocrats, noblemen, the wealthy and the clergy. Today, Panforte is a Christmas staple for many Italian families all throughout Italy and has become a popular Christmas gift here in Australia, where it is readily available. The delectable combination of dried fruits, nuts, honey, spices and chocolate is a beautiful personalised gift to give to your loved ones this Christmas, and the combinations of nuts and fruits used can be altered to suit you and your loved ones tastes.
- 100g blanched almonds, roasted, chopped
- 100g hazelnuts, roasted, skins rubbed off
- 100g unsalted pistachios
- 100g glace apricots, chopped
- 100g glace figs, chopped
- 100g mixed peel
- 100g pain flour
- 2 tablespoons good—quality cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 55g Caster
- ½ cup honey
- 100g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 150®C. Grease and line a rounds 20cm spring-form pan.
- Mix chopped nuts and glace fruits in a large bowl.
- Sift flour, cocoa and spices together. Add to the fruit and nut mixture and stir to combine. Put caster sugar and honey in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat.
- Place chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted. Pour the melted chocolate and honey syrup into the fruit-and-nut mixture. Stir until well combined. Spread the mixture into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack to cool completely in the pan.
- Once cool, remove from the pan and generously dust with icing sugar or cocoa.