- November 2017
- Serves 10
- Hands-on time 25 min, oven time 10 min, plus 2 hours setting and 24 hours drying
Fruit, nuts and sweet spice make this traditional Italian dessert a festive alternative to Christmas cake and a perfect homemade foodie gift. Why not make this fruit-infused Christmas gin to go with it?
- Vegetarian recipes
- 15.2g (1.2g saturated)
- 32.2g (30g sugars)
For the panforte
- 50g blanched hazelnuts
- 50g shelled unsalted pistachios
- 50g shelled almonds
- 75g candied peel
- 200g dried figs, roughly chopped
- 100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
- 50g sour cherries, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp clear honey
- 1-2 tbsp sherry (or brandy)
- 2 cardamom pods, seeds removed and finely ground in a pestle and mortar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Small pinch ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- Finely grated zest 1 lemon
For the praline
- 100g shelled hazelnuts or almonds
- 80g caster sugar
For the frosted herbs and berries
- 1 large free-range egg white
- 150g caster sugar
- 5-6 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 70g fresh cranberries
You’ll also need…
- 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin, base lined with non-stick baking paper
- Pastry brush
- Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Put the hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds on a baking tray in a single layer and toast in the oven for 10 minutes until they smell fragrant and are starting to turn golden. Leave to cool.
- Put the candied peel, chopped figs and apricots in a food processor and pulse to a rough paste that’s starting to stick together in a ball. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
- Finely chop 120g of the toasted nuts and add them, along with the whole nuts, to the dried fruit with the remaining panforte ingredients. Mix well, adding an extra splash of sherry/brandy or honey if the mix is too dry to stick together.
- Put the mix in the prepared tin and pack it down well, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Leave for 2 hours, then remove from the tin and leave it to dry on a wire rack for 24 hours before wrapping.
- To make the praline, put the nuts ina medium heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat and toast until golden. Add the caster sugar and let it melt – don’t stir or it will crystallise. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. When the melted sugar has turned the colour of golden syrup, swirl the pan until all the nuts are coated, then pour onto the prepared baking sheet and leave to cool completely. Chop into roughly 1cm pieces or briefly pulse in a food processor.
- To frost the herbs and berries, put the egg white in a small mixing bowl and whisk until just frothy. Spread the caster sugar out on a small tray. Using a pastry brush, brush the rosemary and berries with the egg white until lightly covered all over, getting it into all the crevices. Roll the herbs and berries in the sugar, making sure they’re coated all over, then shake off any excess. Leave to harden on a separate tray before using to decorate the panforte, along with praline shards.
This is an ideal gift to take, decorated, to someone’s house. If you’re wrapping it as a gift, though, it’s best not to decorate with the berries as they might get squashed.
Wrap in wax paper and use double-sided tape to secure. Tie with ribbons and label with a note to say to keep the right side up. Tuck a few rosemary sprigs under the ribbon – rosemary is a sign of friendship.
Make the panforte up to 2 weeks in advance and keep in an airtight container.
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