The first time I tried panforte, I was taken aback by all the spices. The combination of flavors was not something I was used to, certainly not what you’d normally find in Italian sweets. But now that I’m older, I’ve come to really enjoy the taste. A little piece is all you need to satisfy that mid-afternoon sweet craving.
- 1 cup (250 mL) figs, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) dates, pitted, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) liquid honey
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
- ½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp (2 mL) ground cardamom
- ½ tsp (2 mL) ground cloves
- ½ tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup (60 mL) roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) candied orange rinds
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) candied lemon rinds
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) candied ginger
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) blanched almonds
- ½ cup (125 mL) hazelnuts, toasted
- ½ cup (125 mL) almonds, toasted
- ¼ cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 shot glass (1.5 oz/45 mL) Vin
- Santo or sweet port wine
- Icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat your oven to 325˚F (160˚C). Line a 9- by 5-inch (23- x 12.5 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper.
Put the figs and dates in a saucepan with just enough water to cover them. Then add the honey, brown sugar, spices, and chocolate. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until the honey, sugar and chocolate are melted and the spices are dissolved. Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl.
Add the candied fruit, nuts, flour and Vin Santo or port and stir everything together. Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until soft but firm. Don’t overcook it!
Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely. Once cool, invert it onto a serving plate and pull off the parchment paper. Dust it generously with icing sugar.
It’s rich and decadent, just as you’d expect from a taste of Siena. A small slice goes a long way.