Only ten more days to go!! I wish I had a few more exciting things planned for the end of the year, but one way or another the pandemic has put a stop to that. Never mind, one thing that will always be exciting to me is making some new food, and today I turned my hand to an Italian Christmas fruit sweet called panforte.
Panforte is traditional at Christmastime all over Italy but originates in Tuscany. The sweet and sticky cake should have a texture like nougat or a firmer florentine and is as popular as other Christmas treats such as panettone and pandoro. I found a very simple recipe on The Guardian from Rachel Roddy and got to work.
I roasted, then roughly chopped some hazelnuts and almonds, and mixed it with some orange peel, lemon peel, and sultanas. I then attempted to dissolve sugar in some honey, something I assumed would be relatively quick but seemed to take forever to do. I’m not quite sure what I did wrong here, but the sugar never quite seemed to dissolve fully. I decided to forge ahead and mixed the nuts and fruit in with the honey, adding flour and some warm spices too. The smell from the roasted nuts and the nutmeg and cinnamon instantly gave me a hit of Christmas: it reminded me so much of walking around the Christmas markets, smelling the sugar and spiced almonds for sale – it was lovely.
The panforte in this recipe only needed 10 minutes in the oven, just enough for the sugar to caramelise, but I now wonder whether that was enough. I don’t know if it was something I did wrong when combining the honey and sugar or the length of time in the oven, but the cake never seemed to set properly and it was ridiculously sticky and chewy.
I really wanted to like this but the sweetness was very overwhelming and I could only manage a little bit before I’d had enough. I think if it was a firmer texture I would love it more, but for now, it’s just for little nibbles here and there.