This Italian speciality is perfect for homemade gifts or for finishing a festive meal, simply served with dessert wine or coffee.
- sunflower or vegetable oil, for greasing
- edible rice paper (see recipe tip)
- 125g/4½oz whole, blanched almonds
- 100g/3½oz shelled walnut pieces
- 75g/2¾oz shelled pistachios
- 100g/3½oz candied peel, whole chunks if you can, finely chopped
- 100g/3½oz dried figs, chopped
- 100g/3½oz stoned dates, chopped
- 50g/1¾oz dried apricots, chopped
- 75g/2¾oz plain flour
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 200g/7oz runny honey
- 200g/7oz golden caster sugar
- 2 tbsp marsala or sweet-medium sherry
- icing sugar, to dust
Heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease the base of a 20cm/8in springform or loose-bottomed cake tin with a little of the oil, then line with edible rice paper (or baking paper if you can’t find it). Tip the almonds onto a baking tray and roast for 5–8 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Remove and set aside to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 150C/Fan 130C/Gas 2.
When the almonds are cool enough to handle, roughly chop with the walnuts and pistachios. Tip into a mixing bowl with all the dried fruit, flour, cocoa and spices. Mix together.
Heat the honey, sugar and marsala (or sherry), in a saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar has melted. Allow to bubble for 3 minutes. Carefully pour over the fruit-nut mixture and mix through. Scrape into the tin and use a wet spoon to press the mixture down into a firm, flat cake. Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the surface is still soft, but not sticky to touch.
Cool the panforte in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully run a palette knife around the edge to release, and remove from the tin. If using edible paper, keep on, otherwise remove the baking paper. Cool completely on a wire rack, then dust thickly with icing sugar. Cut into thin wedges to serve.
This keeps well for a month after making, so why not gift whole rounds, or wedges, to friends and family at Christmas? Just wrap well in baking parchment first, or use pretty tins.
If you can't find edible rice paper you can using baking paper instead and peel it off after the panforte has cooled.