A classic Christmas dessert! Panforte can be described as an Italian fruit cake, with dried fruits, almonds and hazelnuts. Great to have around for holiday gatherings!
Panforte is one of my go-to holiday treats. It is so easy to make and simply ‘tastes like Christmas’. It’s known to have originated from Siena, Tuscany. However, nowadays, you see it in almost every region in Italy, especially during the holidays.
While this recipe does not follow the traditional ingredients per se, I have opted to use the two most common types of nuts that are used in making panforte (regardless of the Italian region).
HOW TO MAKE PANFORTE
CAN I ADD OTHER SPICES IN THIS FRUIT CAKE RECIPE?
I know some people add pepper in it. Tried that – did not like it. Somehow it makes me feel like eating fruit cake and ginger snaps at the same time (sorry, that’s the closest description I can think of 🙂 ). Feel free to add it though, you might like it.
IS IT OK IF I DON’T BLANCH THE ALMONDS FOR THIS ITALIAN CHRISTMAS CAKE?
Absolutely. You can skip blanching the almonds if you want but roasting them makes a difference in the over-all flavor.
CAN I ADD DRIED LEMON PEEL IN THIS EASY FRUIT CAKE RECIPE?
I’ve tried some panforte with both candied lemon and orange peel. But personally, I prefer to just use candied orange peel and replace the lemon peel with dried figs.
I even tried adding dried apricots. The result was ok, but I think the result was way better when I replace the dried apricots with semi-sweet chocolate chips (of course!).
HELPFUL TIPS ON MAKING PANFORTE:
- Make sure the sugar mixture is warm (NOT HOT though) when you pour it into the flour mixture. This helps in melting the chocolate chips as you combine them all together.
- Do not hesitate to use your hands when combining the mixture. It can get really hard, especially when you’ve placed it into the baking pan.
- Always sprinkle powdered sugar on top. If you’re worried it might be too sweet, use a bit less sugar on the mixture.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS ITALIAN CHRISTMAS CAKE?
We love pairing panforte with sweet wine, after a meal – and with coffee for breakfast. Nah, what do I know? Just try it with your favorite drink! 🙂
FOR OTHER CHRISTMAS TREATS, CHECK OUT MY OTHER POSTS –
OR IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR MORE TUSCAN RECIPES, FEEL FREE TO GO THROUGH THESE POSTS –
VIDEO ON HOW TO MAKE PANFORTE
This classic holiday dessert simply 'tastes like Christmas'! Unlike other fruit cakes, this Italian Christmas cake contains a mix of dried fruits and (LOTS of) nuts. Enjoy it with your favorite dessert wine, mulled wine or even coffee! (VIDEO ABOVE)
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups whole almonds, blanched and toasted
- 2 & 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts, toasted
- 1/2 cup candied orange peel
- 3/4 cup dried figs, chopped
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- pinch clove powder
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch salt
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar (plus 2 tbsp for serving)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup cold water
- butter and flour, for greasing pan
- Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Grease and flour a 9-inch baking pan. Place a baking paper at the bottom of the pan.
- Mix flour, clove powder, nutmeg, salt, almonds, hazelnuts, candied orange, dried figs and chocolate chips in a large bowl.
- Combine honey and powdered sugar in a small pan. Put pan over medium-low heat and dissolve sugar. When it starts to boil, add a cup of cold water. Stir to combine water with the honey mixture. Remove pan from the heat.
- Add sugar mixture to the flour mixture. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour combined mixture on the greased pan. Press mixture to even it out. You can use your hands to do this.
- Place pan in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
- Set aside to cool.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Slice. Serve.
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