Skip to main content

Panforte Nero...Finalmente!

Panforte Nero has been on my to-do list for years. As in almost two decades on my to-do list. Ever since I lived in Italy and fell in love with it. There's Panforte Margherita, but I prefer the dark one!

Call me a culinary-masochist, but during the busiest time of the year I embrace culinary adventure and attempt a treat that has daunted me or made me swoon in delight. That's not totally accurate since I am adventuring and challenging my kitchen skills all year long, but the holidays seem to bring out my strong need to make sweets. Thankfully - for me, my family, and my friends -  I am blessed with the ability to satiate my craving to bake just by baking; I don't actually have to eat my creations. So, I bake, I breathe in a whiff, and my friends get to eat it all. Thank goodness...or I would weigh 300 pounds!

I toyed with the idea of making Laurie Colwin's Black Cake from Home Cooking. Read her description: "Its closest relatives are plum pudding and black bun, but it leaves both in the dust. Black cake, like truffles and vintage Burgundy, is deep, complicated, and intense. It has taste and aftertaste. It demands to be eaten in a slow, meditative way...."

Intriguing, right? But burnt sugar essence is elusive and I am hesitant to burn that much sugar. A little on top of my brulee is fine, but I'm intimidated by scorching 2 pounds of brown sugar!

So, I decided: my Christmas cooking adventure of 2014 is going to be panforte, literally 'strong bread.' It's dense, sweet, and rich. Halfway between a cake and candy. I remember nibbling on small slivers during a soggy trip to Tuscany when I lived in Rome...and washing it down with an Italian caffè. While my Love and my kids prefer pan d'oro, I think it's like eating air. Air with calories. Maybe I'll make pan d'oro next year.

But this year, panforte is my choice. I read a bunch of recipes - some in English, some in Italian - and I set out to create my own. And I have two days to get it done in 2014. Just under the wire...

  • 4 t unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder plus additional for dusting
  • 2/3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t ground cardamom
  • 2 t instant espresso
  • 2 T  raw cacao nibs
  • 1 C whole almonds, raw
  • 1 C whole hazelnuts, raw
  • 1 C raisins
  • 2 C dried figs, destemmed and quartered
  • 3/4 C organic light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2/3 C honey

Also needed...

  • 9-inch springform pan
  • parchment paper
  • candy thermometer

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line springform pan with parchment paper - along the bottom and the sides. Butter the paper well.

Whisk together flour, spices, salt, and 4 teaspoons cocoa in a large bowl, then stir in nuts and fruit.

Bring sugar and honey to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil without stirring until thermometer registers 238 to 240°F, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

Immediately pour honey over fruit mixture and stir until combined; the mixture will be very thick and sticky. Spoon mixture into springform pan, spreading evenly with back of spoon. Dampen your hands and press mixture firmly and evenly into pan to compact it as much as you can.

Bake until edges start to rise slightly and become dry, approximately 50 to 55 minutes.

Cool panforte completely in pan, then remove the sides of pan. To serve, slice with a serrated knife into thin pieces.


  1. One of my favorites dear Camilla!!
    Happy New Year. xo Catherine


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes

If you've been reading my blog for even a short amount of time, you probably know how much I love to pickle things. I was just telling a friend you can pickle - with vinegar - or you can ferment - with salt - for similar delicious effect. The latter has digestive benefits and I love to do that, but when I need that pop of sour flavor quickly, I whip up quick pickles that are ready in as little as a day or two. I've Pickled Blueberries , Pickled Asparagus , Pickled Cranberries , Pickled Pumpkin , and even Pickled Chard Stems ! This I did last night for an upcoming recipe challenge that requires I include radishes. Ummmm...of course I'm pickling them! Ingredients  makes 1 quart jar radishes, trimmed and sliced organic red onions, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer) 3/4 C vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar) 3/4 C water 3 T organic granulated sugar 1 T salt (I used some grey sea salt) 6 to 8 grinds of black pepper Proce

Aloo Tiki {Pakistan}

To start off our Pakistani culinary adventure, I started us off with aloo tiki - potato cutlets. I'm always game for tasty street food. I found a couple of different recipes and incorporated those together for this version. Ingredients 6-8 small red potatoes, scrubbed 1 T cumin seeds 1 T fresh chopped parsley 1/2 t ground coriander 1 t minced garlic Procedure Boil the potatoes until they are tender. Drain and let cool. Mash the potatoes. Traditionally they are mashed without their skins. I left the skins on. In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds on high heat until the begin to give off an aroma and begin to darken. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to keep them from cooking any more. Blend all of the spices into the mashed potatoes, then shape into small patties. If you wet your hands, the potato mixture won't stick to them. Heat a splash of oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Dip each patty into beaten egg and carefully place in the oil. P

Hot Chocolate Agasajo-Style {Spice It Up!}

photo by D For my Spice It Up! kiddos this week, I was looking for an exotic drink to serve while we learned about saffron. I found a recipe from food historian Maricel Presilla that mimicked traditional Spanish hot chocolate from the 17th century where it was served at lavish receptions called agasajos . When I teach, I don't always get to shoot photos. Thankfully, D grabbed my camera and snapped a few. Ingredients serves 14-16 1 gallon organic whole milk 3 T dried rosebuds - or 2 t rosewater 2 t saffron threads, lightly crushed 3 T ground cinnamon 3 whole tepin chiles, crushed 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise 1 C organic granulated sugar 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate Procedure In a large soup pot that can hold a gallon plus, combine milk, dried rosebuds (or rosewater, if you are using that), saffron threads, ground cinnamon, chiles, vanilla beans, and sugar and warm over medium heat till it steams. Whisk to dissolve sugar, then lower heat an