Panforte Di Siena is Nougat-like Cake Dessert. It is packed with nuts, dried candied fruit and held together by cooked sugar and honey syrup.Panforte di Siena is a sweet, spiced Italian delicacy that is sort of like cake and kind of like candy. It is prepared and sold as a large, round cake and then it is cut into smaller slices or slivers for serving. It is a Christmas tradition, the Italian answer to fruit cake, but it is often eaten all year round. If you’re wondering what makes panforte such a famous treat, it might help to explain that a panforte di siena recipe includes a delicious selection of almonds, hazelnuts, cocoa, honey and dried figs, to name just a few of the ingredients involved. Read on for a recipe for delicious panforte di siena that you can make in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Because a panforte di siena recipe contains so many rich and flavourful ingredients, it gets better over time. I recommend that you wait at least one week and up to four before indulging in the home-made Italian delicacy. Try to get hold of some parchment or rice paper to wrap around the prepared panforte di siena and store it in a sealed Ziploc or plastic bag. It’s essential to do this if you want it to retain its moisture and density throughout the storing process.
HOW TO MAKE PANFORTE DI SIENA (TIPS)
- Because panforte di siena is so dense and sticky, it is essential that you line the baking tin you will be using with parchment. Cut a circle for the base and a long strip to cover the sides. You can use any grease-proof paper or even rice paper to do this too. The great thing about rice paper is that you don’t have to peel it off, but you can eat it along with the panforte.
- Next, apply a coating of butter to the paper lining the tin and dust this with a layer of cocoa powder. A spring form pan is recommended as the base is removable which makes it easy to remove panforte di siena. If you do not have one available, a regular baking tin will do the trick. Just be sure to be careful about removing the panforte.
The first step in a panforte di siena recipe involves the cake-like mixture that the delicacy begins as. Flour, sugar and your choice of sweet spices are combined.
SPICES I RECOMMEND TO USE FOR PANFORTE DI SIENA
- Cocoa powder
- Black pepper
Next, the fruit and nuts you have selected for the panforte di siena are added to this mixture. I recommend you choose raisins, cranberries, sultanas, dried prunes; pitted of course, or a combination of these. Dried figs are really tasty in panforte, as are dates. Candied melon, mango, candied orange and lemon rind are also often used. Mostly, a Panforte recipe will include almonds.
Blanched almonds are the best choice here, as slivered almonds will be lost in the dense texture of the cake and fruit. You could choose to use hazelnuts instead, or a combination of both. If you would like to include roasted nuts in your panforte di siena recipe, you can prepare the nuts in the oven before adding them in.
HOW TO BLANCH NUTS FOR PANFORTE DI SIENA
- If you would like to blanch the almonds at home, drop them in some boiling water, drain it, and transfer them into cold water. This should remove their skins quite easily. Remember that the nuts must be roughly chopped so that they contribute to the texture of the panforte. (But if you like to add whole hazelnuts like me that’s fine; I usually chop only almonds).
- You can bake nuts, transfer them onto a wire rack, and cover with kitchen towel for 5-10 minutes. And just rub them with your hands to remove most of skins.
After you’ve mixed the fruit, nuts, spices and flour, you can start to heat the sugar and honey over the stove. Some chefs will recommend that you add in a dash of sherry or dessert wine to your panforte di siena recipe at this point. You can complete these two steps at the same time if you’re in a rush, but be careful to watch the sugary mixture as it will burn very easily. The mixture is ready when the sugar granules have dissolved and the liquid is clear in color.
Next, you will need to move fast as the mixture sets really quickly. Pour the clear liquid over the floury mixture and stir until all of the ingredients in the panforte di siena recipe are combined. Add in a bit more sherry or dessert wine if you think it looks a bit too dry. The mixture is then transferred into the prepared pan. Wet your hands and press the mixture into the pan until it is beautifully compacted. Panforte di siena is baked in the oven until the edges begin to come away from the pan and the mixture no longer appears shiny. Some recipes include a generous dusting of white icing sugar powder, while others call for Dutch cocoa powder.
For a chocolate panforte recipe, add in semi-sweet chocolate chips to the honey and sugar mixture while it is being heated over the stove. Dried apricots and walnuts make an interesting and decadent combination in panforte. Panforte tipo marzapane is the name for panforte where the almonds are ground into a paste instead of being kept whole, or chopped. Panpepato is similar to panforte di siena, but includes pine nuts, pepper and lime.
Serve the panforte di siena along with a cup of freshly brewed coffee after a hearty Italian main meal or during afternoon tea. Make it an advance as a Christmas treat, or throughout the year for special occasions. A panforte di siena recipe is a great one to have up your sleeve as it will impress your guests. There is also the added benefit of a dessert that lasts for a long time! It’s a great idea to store it in the cupboard, ready for an emergency treat.
P.S. If you’re interested in Italian desserts, check out panna cotta. It’s a great option if you are eating a carb free or banting diet. Biscotti is easy to make and delicious with a cup of tea or coffee. Semifreddo is made with nougat and cream, and the result is similar to ice cream. Tiramisu is also hugely popular, and if you have ever tasted it, you will know exactly why.
- Blanched almonds( peeled by scalding them)-1 cup/ 120 gm
- Candied mango cubes- 1 cup/ 160 gm
- Blanched hazelnuts (peeled)-1 cup / 120 gm
- Ground ginger- ⅕ tsp (optional)
- Ground cinnamon-1/2 tsp
- Unsweetened cocoa powder- 1 ¼ tbsp
- Salt- ¼ tsp
- All purpose flour- ½ cup / 70 gm
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips- 100 gm/ ½ cup
- Honey- ⅔ cup / 160 ml
- Sugar (white)- ⅔ cup / 140 gm
- Preheat your oven to 180 degree C / 350 F.
- Spray spring form pan with nonstick spray & line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Bake raw hazelnuts & almonds about 10-15 minutes until they are fragrant and the skins go away easily.
- Place the baked nuts on a wire rack. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow the nuts steam for 5-10 minutes. Rub the nuts with your hands to get rid of the skins. Let them cool completely before you will chop them coarsely. I didn’t chop my hazelnuts because I just like them this way.
- Now in a large bowl, combine flour, chopped nuts, candied mango, salt, unsweetened cocoa powder, ground cinnamon & ground ginger.
- Melt chocolate chips over the pan of simmering water. Pour in over fruit & nut mixture.
- In a saucepan with a candy thermometer, mix together sugar and honey. Over medium heat bring it to boil. Sugar must dissolve. Continue to boil mixture until temperature reaches 115 degree C or 240 F( don’t stir).
- Pour honey-sugar mixture (syrup) over nut & fruit mixture. Combine quickly as it will stiffen immediately.
- Transfer into the prepared spring form, evenly spread & bake 30 minutes (180 C/ 350F).
- Dust the top of Panforte cake with confectioners or icing sugar.
- You can store this Panforte cake up to 2 months. This cake is very reach so I advice to serve it in thin slices.
Viola! Perfect Panforte di Siena sweet for any celebration. I love it.