(Makes one 9-inch tart)
Panforte (Panforte di Siena)
Panforte (pronounced pan-FOHR-tay), is an Italian confection which comes from Siena.
Panforte is a traditional Italian Christmas dessert but it is also eaten throughout the year.
It also goes by the name Siena Cake. Panforte is made with honey, nuts, chocolate, spices, and dried fruit. It has a soft and chewy texture similar to fudge or a very dense brownie. Another distinctive characteristic of this cake is the dusting of the top of the cake with confectioners' sugar, which gives it a snowy look. This Tuscan specialty has been eaten since the Middle Ages, when the first spices were imported into Italy. Panforte means 'strong bread.'
1/2 cup walnuts halves
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup candied orange peel
1/3 cup raisins
Grated zest of 1 large orange
2/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Combine the walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts in a large bowl.
Reserve 1 cup of the mixed nuts in the bowl.
Coarsely chop the remaining nuts and return them to the bowl.
Add the pine nuts, candied orange peel, raisins, and orange zest.
In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, chopped chocolate, and all the spices. Add the flour mixture to the fruits and nuts; toss to coat evenly.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
In a saucepan, combine the honey and granulated sugar.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes; stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the water.
Pour the hot syrup over the fruit and nut mixture. Stir to coat everything evenly.
The batter will be very thick.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tart pan.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the center is firm.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Remove the side ring from the pan; cool completely.
Before serving, dust the top of the tart liberally with confectioners’ sugar.
Use a sharp knife to cut the panforte into thin wedges.
Panforte can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for several days.
It is even better a day for two after baking, when it has had time to age and deepen the sweet spicy flavors.