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Panforte (Italian Christmas Cake) Recipe

Panforte: Butter and line with parchment paper an 8-inch (20 cm) tart pan. Alternatively, and for a more authentic look, line the pan with edible rice paper (available at Asian markets).

First melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside. Then in a large bowl combine the nuts, candied fruit, spices, flour, and cocoa powder.

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar and honey. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Then clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Continue to boil the mixture over medium heat, without stirring, until the temperature reaches the soft ball stage, 240 degrees F (116 degrees C).

Remove from heat and stir the sugar/honey syrup and the melted chocolate into the chopped nut and fruit mixture. The mixture will stiffen quickly so once combined, transfer to the prepared pan. With damp hands, or the back of a spoon, evenly spread the Panforte, smoothing the top.

Bake in a 300 degree F (150 degree C) oven for about 30-35 minutes or until the surface has fine blisters. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. While the Panforte is still warm, remove the sides of the pan and heavily dust the top of the cake with confectioners' (powdered/icing) sugar. Gently rub the sugar into the cake. (Note: if you have lined the pan with rice paper you may find it has torn. If that is the case simply add more rice paper, using a little egg white as glue.) 

Once the cake has completely cooled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in a cool, dry place. Well wrapped this cake will keep several months. Serve this cake in thin slices as it is quite rich. 

Makes 1 - 8 inch (20 cm) cake. 

Panforte:

3 ounces (90 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup (125 grams) toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts

1 cup (120 grams) toasted and coarsely chopped blanched almonds

1 cup candied citrus (170 grams) (citron, lemon and/or orange peel)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar

2/3 cup (160 ml) honey