A classic treat from Tuscany, Panforte is a traditional Christmas dessert that contains nuts, dried fruits, and spices. Enjoy it with a dessert wine or coffee — every bite is perfect for the festive season!
What is panforte?
Panforte literally means ‘strong bread,’ referring to the spiciness of the bread.
It originated from Siena, Tuscany, and the locals used to call it ‘panpepato‘ or peppered bread.
While some locals still call it panpepato, there are now different panforte versions– some with marzipan added on top of it.
Oh, if you want your homemade panforte to look exactly like the commercially produced ones, line your cake pan with rice-paper and cover the top of your panforte with powdered sugar, as in dust it generously. 🙂
IF YOU WANT MORE TRADITIONAL ITALIAN DESSERTS FROM TUSCANY, THEN YOU WILL LIKE THESE POSTS!
- Sugar – regular white sugar is all you need to make this panforte recipe.
- Honey – just use your favorite brand.
- Almonds & Hazelnuts – toasted and with skin.
- Dried orange peel & other mixed dried fruits – the same stuff you use for fruit cakes; you should find these in the baking section of any supermarket.
- Flour – all-purpose flour is excellent for this panforte recipe.
- Spices – a mix of black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, and cloves.
- Powdered sugar – you need this for serving your panforte.
Start making your panforte by preheating the oven to 150°C (300°F).
Grease the sides of your cake pan with butter and dust it with flour, then line the bottom of the pan with baking paper.
Place a small saucepan over low heat and combine sugar and honey (photo 1).
Mix until the sugar is dissolved, then set aside to cool (photo 2).
Using a large mixing bowl, combine flour, spices, almonds, hazelnuts, orange peel, and dried fruits (photo 3).
Pour the sugar and honey mixture into the mixing bowl (photo 4).
Mix to combine all the ingredients evenly — this part might take a bit of effort, so feel free to use your hands directly if it’s easier for you. The result will be chunks of dough.
Transfer the panforte dough into the prepared pan (photo 5).
Use your hand to press the dough down and even out the cake’s top (photo 6).
Place the cake pan in the middle of the oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes.
Remove panforte from the oven but keep it in the pan for about twenty minutes to cool.
Take the cake out of the pan and sprinkle it with powdered sugar on top.
Cut panforte into wedges and serve, dusting with more powdered sugar, if desired.
- You can use the stovetop or the oven to toast the nuts for your panforte.
Placing them in the oven for ten minutes for 180°C (350°F) is enough.
- Make sure you keep the heat on low when mixing the sugar and honey — do not let it caramelize.
- Feel free to vary the amount of each type of spice, as per your preference.
As long as you get two teaspoons of the mix, you’re good to go.
- Chocolate and cocoa powder. Another classic version, the chocolate panforte variety, is quite popular nowadays.
The cocoa powder is added to the dough and then covered with another layer of chocolate after baking. Yep, chocolate galore. 🙂
- Dried figs. You can replace the mixed dried fruits with dried figs instead; just chop them into small bits before combining with the rest of panforte ingredients.
- Aniseed. Just a tiny amount of ground aniseed; certainly not the same quantity as the rest of the spices.
While it will last for weeks in cool, room temperature, I still recommend enclosing it in plastic wrap and storing it in the refrigerator instead.
This way your panforte would be good for about four weeks.
Cover it with plastic wrap first, then keep it in a freezer-proof container. Finally, place the panforte in the freezer, and it should be good for about six months.
The locals love it with coffee or their dessert wine, Vin Santo.
I especially love it with dry red wine, but please try it with your favorite beverage and see how it goes.
That was not so difficult, right? So, give this panforte recipe a try and let me know what you think! 🙂
- 1/2 cup & 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/3 cup & 2 tbsp honey
- 1/2 & 1/3 cup flour (120 grams)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 cup mixed dried fruit (50 grams)
- 1/3 cup dried orange peel, heaping (70 grams)
- 1 & 1/4 cups whole almonds (200 grams) with skin and toasted
- 2/3 cups whole hazelnuts (100 grams) with skin and toasted
- powdered sugar, for serving
- Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F), then prepare the cake pan by greasing the sides with butter and dusting it with flour.
- Line the bottom of the pan with baking paper and set it aside.
Preparing & serving panforte:
- Place a small saucepan over low heat and combine sugar and honey.
- Mix until the sugar is dissolved, then set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, spices, almonds, hazelnuts, orange peel, and dried fruits.
- Pour the sugar and honey mixture into the rest of the ingredients.
- Mix to combine evenly. Note that this part might take a bit of effort, so feel free to use your hands directly if it's easier for you. The result will be chunks of dough.
- Transfer the panforte dough into the prepared pan.
- Use your hand to press the dough down and to even out the top surface of the cake.
- Place the panforte in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside for at least 20 minutes to cool.
- Take your cake out of the pan and sprinkle with powdered sugar on top.
- Cut panforte into wedges and serve, with more powdered sugar, if preferred.
- Cook’s Tip #1: Use the stovetop or the oven to toast the nuts. Placing them in the oven for ten minutes for 180°C (350°F) is enough for this panforte recipe.
- Cook’s Tip #2: Make sure you keep the heat on low when mixing the sugar and honey — do not let it caramelize.
- Cook’s Tip #3: Feel free to vary the amount of each type of spice, as per your preference. As long as you get two teaspoons of the mix, you’re good to go.
- Variation #1: Chocolate and cocoa powder – another classic panforte version that’s becoming more popular nowadays.
- Variation #2: Dried figs – you can replace the mixed dried fruits with dried figs instead; just chop them into small bits.
- Variation #3: Aniseed – just a tiny amount of ground aniseed; not the same quantity as the rest of the panforte spices.