Originating in Siena, Italy, panforte means ‘strong bread.’ It’s full of delicious and nutritious ingredients and it’s really a cake that can be served as a dessert with coffee or a liquor. It’s also great as a snack with a cup of coffee. In early medieval times when spices were first introduced in Italy, panforte was given to monks and nuns as annual tithes. It’s said that Crusaders carried this early ‘energy bar’ on their travels.
Makes one 8″cake.
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 cup pistachios, lightly toasted
1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skins rubbed off
6 dried figs, stems removed, cut into quarters
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into quarters
1/2 cup candied citrus peel, (green)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1/4 c finely chopped crystallized ginger
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup excellent quality cocoa
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
Place the chocolate a bowl and melt over a double boiler. Set aside. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line an 8” or 9” spring form with parchment paper and butter sides of pan.
Stir nuts, fruit and peel together in a large bowl. Sift flour, cocoa, spices and salt over the fruit and nuts. Stir until the fruit and nuts are well coated. Butter and 8-inch spring-form pan, then line the base with a circle of parchment paper.
Put the honey and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil until the temperature reaches 250F or 120C on a candy thermometer.
Once the honey is at temperature, pour into the melted chocolate and stir. Working very quickly, pour over the fruits and nuts. Mix well. (The mixture will be thick and heavy.) Spoon and pat the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 – 50 minutes in the centre of the oven. The centre will be slightly soft and shiny but not sticky. (Don’t over bake or it will be too hard to eat.) Cool in pan, wrap well. Cut into small thin slices to serve. Keeps well.