(makes 36 pieces)
This is my version of the sweetmeat delicacy from Sienna in Tuscany. Keeps extremely well when airtight in the pantry.
140g (1 cup) blanched almonds
140g (1 cup) hazelnuts
125g (3/4 cup + 3 tbsp) flour
12g (2 tbsp) cocoa
5g (1 tbsp) cinnamon
5g (1 tbsp) mixed spice
200g (1¼ cups) dried apricots (chopped)
150g (1 cup) raisins (chopped)
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
60ml (¼ cup) brandy
155g (3/4 cup) castor sugar
125g (1/3 cup) runny honey
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Spray a 25cm round non-stick tin and line base with baking paper (or better still with teflon).
Roast almonds and hazelnuts in oven for 5–7 minutes and roughly remove skins from hazelnuts.
Sift flour, cocoa, cinnamon and spice into a bowl and add nuts, apricots, raisins, and zests. Add brandy.
In a small saucepan over a low heat stir sugar and honey until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat, bring to the boil and simmer for 1–2 minutes until bubbles are formed which are even across the surface (i.e. or until syrup reaches soft ball stage*).
Quickly add hot syrup to nuts and fruit (this step is easily done using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment).
Put some water in a small bowl and dip your fingertips in and out of the water as you press mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing the surface as you go. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until Panforte springs back slightly to the touch.
Allow Panforte to sit for 10 minutes before turning out on to cooling rack. Remove parchment or teflon and let cool completely. Slice into thin wedges and dust with icing sugar.
Store in an airtight container. When serving redust with icing sugar if you wish.
Note: * To test for soft ball stage test as you would when you are making jam. Fill a saucer with cold water and put a drop of syrup in. If it coheres the syrup is at soft ball stage.