Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, resembling a fruitcake. Literally, panforte means "strong bread" which refers to the spicy flavor. A small wedge usually is served with coffee or a dessert wine after a meal; although, some Italians enjoy it with their coffee at breakfast.
The city of Siena is regarded as the Panforte capital of Italy. Documents from 1205 show that Panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax or tithe which was due on February 7th that year. There are references to the Crusaders carrying Panforte with them on their quests, and to the use of Panforte in surviving sieges because of the confection's durability.*
Here is the recipe I used:
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
1/2 cup candied orange peel
1/2 cup candied lemon peel
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup honey
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Cut parchment paper to line an 8-inch tart pan that has a removable side. Butter the parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler, and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, spices, nuts, and candied fruits.
In a saucepan, stir together the sugar and honey. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to boil the mixture over medium heat, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F. (Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature.)
Remove from the heat source and stir the mixture and the melted chocolate into the dry ingredients. It will stiffen once combined, so quickly transfer the dough to the prepared pan. With damp hands or the back of a large spoon, press the dough in the pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the surface has fine blisters. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly. Remove the side of the pan and generously dust the top with confectioners' sugar while the Panforte is warm.
Once it has cooled completely, tightly wrap the Panforte in plastic wrap and store in a cool, dry place. When wrapped well, the Panforte will keep for several months.
Serve the Panforte in small wedges; it is quite rich!
Note that for this recipe I used the Candied Orange Peel and the Candied Lemon Peel I made! :)
The original version of this recipe came from a free Christmas cookbook, Figgy Pudding, Stollen and Tamales, from Knowledge Quest.
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