Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Panforte al Cioccolato

Panforte is a dense, spicy holiday delight from Siena, Italy





























Panforte originates from Siena in the Tuscany region of Italy. Panforte literally means "strong bread" and it is a heavily spiced, dense fruit and nut confection. Records from the 13th century indicate that panforte was used to pay tithes to the nuns and monks at the Sienese Montecellesi monastery. Queen Margherita helped popularize the confection in the late 1800's and her portrait is often used on Italian Panforte packaging. It’s especially good with coffee or hot chocolate.

The cooking process for panforte is fairly straightforward.  Nuts, fruits, flour and spices are added to a firm-ball stage mixture of sugar, honey and butter, then transferred to small pans and baked. We especially like the "al cioccolato" version that contains cocoa powder and a thin layer of fine dark chocolate crowning the top. Springform pans make for easy transfer of the cooling cakes. We make 6" round cakes because it's easier to cut the wedges, but it can be made larger. Panforte will last a month or longer. Here are a few links to recipes: