An Italian specialty hailing from Siena, Panforte is a deliciously spiced dessert full of fruits and nuts. Here, blogger Giulia Scarpaleggia from julskitchen.com shares her signature recipe straight from her Tuscan kitchen.
Makes one 23x18-centimeter (9x7-inch) or 20x20-centimeter (8x8-inch) baking pan
- 1¼ pounds (550 grams) almonds, unpeeled (about 3½ cups)
- 5¼ ounces (150 grams) hazelnuts, peeled (about 1 cup)
- 1 sheet edible wafer paper
- ⅔ pound (300 grams) candied orange zest (about 1⅓ cups)
- ⅔ pound (300 grams) candied citron zest (about 1⅓ cups)
- 1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (300 grams) wildflower honey
- ¼ cup (60 grams) water
- 2⅓ cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
- Spices for Panforte (recipe follows)
- ½ cup (50 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Arrange the almonds and the hazelnuts on prepared pan and toast them in the oven until browned and fragrant, about 15 minutes. (Since every oven is different, don’t only trust the timer; rely on your senses. When you smell a toasted aroma, check the almonds and hazelnuts. They are ready when they are golden brown on the inside, cut open with a knife. If they are still pale white, keep them in a bit longer. The nutty aroma they will develop while baking will ensure a perfect balance with the sweetness of honey and candied citrus peel.) When they are ready, remove them from the oven and let them cool down slightly, about 20 minutes.
- Grease a 23x18-centimeter (9x7-inch) or 20x20-centimeter (8x8-inch) baking pan with olive oil; line with two layers of parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan. Place wafer paper on bottom and lightly oil parchment on sides. (See Note.)
- While the almonds and hazelnuts are cooling down, cube the orange and citron peels, and collect them in a large bowl.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the sugar, the honey, and the ¼ cup (60 grams) water, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is completely melted and has become a thick golden syrup, 10 to 20 minutes; remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the toasted almonds and hazelnuts to the candied citrus peel bowl, along with the flour and the spices. Stir thoroughly to mix so that the fruit and the nuts are completely covered with flour. Pour the honey and sugar syrup into the bowl and stir until all the flour is dissolved. It should now be a very hard, sticky dough. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spoon.
- Dust the surface with half of the confectioners’ sugar and bake for about 40 minutes. The panforte will be slightly soft to the touch, with patches of melted icing sugar. Remove the panforte from the oven, let cool slightly for 15 to 20 minutes, and then remove from the baking pan. Let cool completely, wafer paper side down, on a wire rack.
- Once the panforte is cool, dust generously with remaining confectioners’ sugar. You can cut it in big chunks to gift to your loved ones or in bite-size morsels to wrap individually as a coffee treat. You can also store it for weeks wrapped in baking paper.
Note: A sheet of rice paper can also be used for wafer paper in a pinch; results may be slightly different but still wonderful. If you don’t have access to either, you can also still make this recipe using just oiled parchment paper. The panforte may just stick more to the parchment paper.
Spices for Panforte
Makes about 3 tablespoons
- 5 teaspoons (10 grams) ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon (6 grams) ground mace
- 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground nutmeg
- In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients until well combined.
Photography by Joann Pai
Recipe development and food styling by Giulia Scarpaleggia