Friday 16 December 2011

Panforte....the essence of Christmas....

So, the frantic times are upon us - for every customer who is in good time, there are two who seem to foregt entirely that Christmas arrives on the same date every year and just scrape under the threshold for last orders! To compound the busy-ness I also have the Farmer's Market on Monday...the December one is a little different. I obviously try and make as many festive things as possible, for people to pick up as last minute presents as well as the predictable mince pies and a few Christmas cakes for those who have forgotten or just don't want to make one.
This year, I've also made a lot of Panforte - the wonderful Italian confection that is, to me, the very essence of Christmas...citrus peels,fruits, spices and nuts. Everything good. And it keeps brilliantly too (almost forever...)
My recipe is a hybrid of several others, and I also make mine gluten-free to let as many people as possible try the magic!
Here it is - I really encourage you to try it, it's easy and quite quick to make, makes the kitchen smell incredible and is just gorgeous after dinner or as a different gift to take to a seasonal party...


Line a 9" square dish or pan with baking parchment. You will also need rice paper for this recipe: line the base, over the parchment, with a layer - you may need to cut and overlap a couple of sheets to fit.

You'll need 420g  assorted mixed, raw & unsalted nuts. I use mainly almonds (skins on) but also some walnuts & pistachios. Use your favourites! Toast these for 5-7 minutes in a hot oven (375f/180c) until light brown & fragrant...
cool slightly & then chop very roughly just to break them up a bit (I do this in a processor)

In a pestle & mortar (or a spice grinder) pound 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 6 black peppercorns, the seeds from 5 cardamom pods and 6 cloves until crushed & blended. Tip into a bowl and add the nuts. Add 40g gluten-free plain flour and 1 tbsp cocoa powder together with 400g chopped candied citrus peel. Roughly chop 175g dried figs (or any other soft dried fruits you like - dates, prunes, apricots...) and add to the bowl.

In a large pan, bring 200g caster sugar & 120g clear honey gently to the boil and simmer for a minute, stirring...

Remove from  the heat and stir in all the other ingredients....

Mix together really will look and smell delicious by this time...

Pack into the prepared tin. It will be very sticky but do the best you can to make sure it's pushed into all the corners and fairly level. Cover with another layer of rice paper (again, cut a patchwork to fit if necessary) and push down with your hands slightly to compress the mixture...

Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tin halfway through the cooking time...
Remove and cool completely (I also compress the finished Panforte while it cools, by covering the pan with a sheet of baking parchment and weighing down with 4 x 420g tins of something like baked beans! But this isn't strictly necessary)
When it's cold, turn out and peel off the parchment paper (leaving the rice paper!). Dredge with icing sugar and cut with a very sharp knife. I cut this size into 4 and wrap each square in parchment, then in colourful tissue tied with a ribbon. If you're making for you, then keep it wrapped in parchment in a tin or airtight box and slice thinly to serve with cheese or coffee...or just on it's own!

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well...and that you're making a little time to enjoy yourself as well. So important - in a few short weeks it will all be over again! Have a great weekend xo


  1. I am ready for a piece of that Christmas deliciousness...send now, please!! xoxox Thank you for sharing the recipe..will try it, soon, and think of you :-)

  2. Oh wow, Rachel, that looks delicious. I love all the ingredients that went into the panforte. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us. I've tried pannetone, but never panforte. I love the first photo - all wrapped up and ready for gift giving. Wishing I could have a piece, just for me!

    Rosinda xoxo

  3. This is baking weekend. Mom's here one more night and we're baking her favorites. She leaves in the morning, and if I can find the rice paper...I'll add this to my list for Sunday! I'll head to mom & the farm on the 24th, and on Christmas we'll make deliveries to her friends that don't bake anymore. How wonderful if I can add this. I love toasted nuts. This will be fabulous! Tonight we'll be making thumbprints, maybe pressed cookies, too. Hope you and Alice and Paul are having a cozy, warm, joyful ease into the weekend! xoxo

  4. How interesting and wonderful that sounds. Not sure I know what rice paper is, are we talking about dumpling wrappers or some such thing? What does it turn into? That's definitely a high energy snack!

  5. Rachel, your reicipe is wonderful. If I liked Christmas or felt inclined to cook, I would definitely make it! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  6. Oh my goodness--I'm going to have to try this wonderful recipe---Christmas is a flurry of activities around here---my goodness!!! This will be something I practice AFTER Christmas---when I visit one of the asian markets and get the rice paper and can do this delightful!!


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