Christmas sweets, a highlight of the season awaited by many young and old. In Italy the range of traditional delicacies made for the holidays goes far beyond the renowned Panettone and Pandoro, including other irresistible preparations, such as the famous Panforte di Siena IGP. A typical dessert of the Sienese gastronomic tradition, and perhaps the best known of the various spice-filled breads found in this Tuscan city.
The origins of Panforte go back to the Middle Ages, when local traditions says that the dessert was first made by a nun who prepared a sort of sweet focaccia mixing together honey, flour and candied fruit with nuts and many spices. Recreate this classic Tuscan treat for this year’s holiday table with the recipe below.
Put the almonds on a baking tray and toast them for about 10 minutes in the oven. Cut the candied fruit into small pieces. Melt the honey and sugar in a saucepan over a gentle flame, stir to prevent the mixture from sticking. When it has taken on a brown color remove the casserole from the heat and add the almonds, flour, candied fruit, grated nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon powder, cloves and coriander seeds that have been previously crushed or ground. Carefully stir the mixture together.
Line the bottom of a round baking pan, if possible, use a springform pan, pour the cake mixture, which will be about two centimeters thick, into the pan and bake for 30 minutes at 150 degrees. Once cooked, remove the Panforte from the mould and dust it with icing sugar. The cake should be served cold.