After years of wanting to make this Italian delicacy I finally tried my hand at it and I’m over the moon with the result. I put in all the things I love in Panforte like roasted nuts and orange zest and went quite light on the dried fruits which aren’t my favourite thing.

Christmas 2003 I received Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer’s Tuscan Cookbook from Joel and their Panforte recipe has always made me want to give it a go. That year I also received a lovely bottle of perfume from Joel too. We had been holidaying at the coast and came home Christmas eve to find the incredibly hot summer weather had caused the perfume to explode and leak all through the other presents. So every time I open up the Tuscan cookbook a strong perfume aroma seeps out. Just as well it is a lovely perfume.

But it wasn’t the recipe that finally led me to try Panforte. Standing in line at the supermarket, flicking through the Summer issue of MasterChef magazine and I discovered 3 pages all on Panforte. I couldn’t resist and it came home with me.

The next day I did a little outing to Mick’s Nut to get lovely fresh, pesticide free almonds and hazelnuts. The nuts were then roasted lightly and they were perfect. I think the reason I was so happy with the result of the Panforte is because fresh nuts were used. I didn’t use dried white figs, glace orange rind or raisins. Instead I used about 150g sultanas and the zest of 1 orange as I wanted the roasted nuts to be the main player but I will write down the original recipe.

Perfect to have with coffee around Christmas time. It makes a lovely gift. Give the whole Panforte – slice it into wedges before wrapping in plastic wrap then gift paper. Or you can give just 1 or 2 wedges in a celophane bag tied with a ribbon.


(from MasterChef magazine Issue)

150g natural almonds, lightly roasted and chopped roughly
150g hazelnuts, lightly roasted, skinned and chopped roughly
75g glace orange rind (or zest of 1 orange)
100g raisins
150g dried white figs, stems discarded, finely chopped
100g plain flour
2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder, plus extra to dust
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
110g caster sugar
180g honey
60g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Lightly grease and flour the sides of a 22cm round tin then line the base.

In a large bowl toss together the nuts, orange rind, raisins and figs.

In a small saucepan place sugar and honey and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for another 6 minutes or until a sugar thermometer reaches 118 degrees C. Remove syrup and add the chocolate. Swirl until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Poor the syrup over the nut mix and stir with a wooden spoon until combined then tip everything into the prepared tin. Use wet hands to press the mixture level. Bake for 40 minutes and then allow 10 minutes to cool in tin before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

Sprinkle the extra cocoa powder over the top and slice up. It will last in a airtight container for up to 6 weeks.

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