This is a wonderful treat for us, grown-ups. The panforte makes a great gift since the flavor only improves with aging and allows you to have it ready well before the Christmas fuss. Panpepato pears beautifully with dessert wines, coffee, and gourmet cheeses. I’m absolutely shamelessly addicted to this thing, so in our house panforte is never kept for long, rather gets eaten right away.
Makes one 8-inch round cake, 12 to 16 servings
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, loose skins rubbed off
- ¾ cup whole unblanched almonds, toasted
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp natural (nonalkalized) cocoa powder
- 2 ¼ tsp slightly crushed fennel seeds
- Slightly rounded 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Slightly rounded 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- Slightly rounded ¼ tsp finely ground white pepper
- Slightly rounded ¼ tsp ground ginger
- Slightly rounded ¼ tsp finely crushed coriander seeds
- Slightly rounded ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Grated zest of 1 orange, preferably from an organic fruit
- 8 oz dried Mission or other figs, tough stems cut off and sliced about ¼-inch thick
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 F. Grease the pan or spray it with vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment and the sides with a 2-inch-wide band of parchment. Grease the parchment, bottom and sides, liberally.
In a large bowl, mix the hazelnuts, almonds, flour, cocoa, spices, orange zest, and figs.
In a 3-to 4-quart saucepan, bring the honey and sugar to a full rolling boil. Boil for 15 seconds, until an instant read thermometer indicates 240 F.
Note: Alice Medrich (this is her recipe) doesn’t emphasize the necessity of such a tool as thermometer. Although other authors in their recipes of panforte strongly recommend it.
Anyway, just to be sure, I checked the temperature after suggested 15 seconds, and it was exactly 240 F. Another proof of Alice Medrich’s precision.
Off the heat pour in the dry ingredients and mix well, working quickly, before the syrup cools.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake until the batter bubbles in the center as well as at the edges, about 45 minutes. Cool the panforte in the pan on a rack.
Invert the panforte onto a plate and remove the pan. Peel off the parchment and turn the panforte right side up. If desired, dust the top with powdered sugar. Serve in thin slices (use a sharp wet knife). Panforte keeps for months, well wrapped, at room temperature.