Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Baking Chocolate Panforte!

Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert dating back to the 13th century. Within the rich chocolatey flavours, it contains lots of nuts and dried fruit, which seem in keeping with classic Christmas flavours. The best part is that it doesn't need eggs, and the butter can easily be substituted. A vegan recipe win!

The long recipe may make this cake seem slightly difficult to make, but it's really not. However, it is a little time-consuming, but well worth it! It will keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator for several days, and if well-wrapped or left under a cake dome it should last more than a week.

This cake actually served as our Christmas day dessert this year, which was a nice change - and one that may well become a new tradition in my household judging by how well it went down with the entire family.

Ingredients and full recipe below!

  • 50g/1.8oz hazelnuts
  • 100g/3½oz whole almonds
  • 100g/3½oz chopped walnuts
  • 50g/1.8oz candied peel AND/OR mixed dried fruit (optional)
  • 75g/2¾oz plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150g/5oz caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup OR clear honey
  • 100g good quality dark chocolate (keep a little to one side for topping)
  • 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
  • Icing sugar (for dusting)

  • Preheat oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2 
  • Butter or line an 8 inch/20cm cake tin (preferably one with a removable bottom)
  • Spread the nuts onto a baking tray and roast in the oven for 4-5 minutes until toasted and golden-brown in colour
  • Place the nuts into a bowl and add the candied peel or dried fruit with flour and cocoa powder, mix until well combined
  • Melt the dark chocolate into a bowl, you can do this using either the microwave or very carefully over the stove
  • Heat the sugar, butter and syrup or honey in a pan until it begins to bubble. Keep stirring the mixture for about 3-4 minutes until it is well combined

This part requires some multi-tasking, because the longer this step takes, the melted chocolate may start to harden, but try not to get too flustered if you are on your own - just keep stirring the chocolate when you can to keep it runny
  • Then pour the caramel-looking mixture from the pan into the melted chocolate and work quickly to add dry ingredients. Mix very quickly until everything comes together - this should be quite tough to mix as the syrup starts to set, but I found that using a soft-plastic spatula helps
  • Spoon into the cake tin immediately and gently press down on the top with the spatula or the back of a spoon
  • Transfer cake to the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and wait a few minutes before you take it out of the tin, you want to do this while it's warm though because this cake becomes very hard very quickly
  • Leave to cool before serving

For the topping:
  • Once cake is completely cool, spread the melted chocolate over the top and smooth over sides
  • Leave the cake to set in the fridge for about an hour, then dash a generous amount of icing sugar over the top with a sieve

I recommend serving this in small slices as it is very rich in flavour, however this has never stopped me from going back for seconds! Let me know if you decide to try this recipe, and if so, what you thought of the outcome.


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