Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday Season!
May you all have a Merry Christmas, relaxing break, and fun New Year’s celebration.
We will be back in the New Year with lots of new and exciting things to share with you such as our fantastic new packages, a few more weddings we designed this summer, and as we’ve mentioned before, we have been scouting the Tuscan land for new venues and vendors to work with, and we have some incredibly gorgeous finds to share with you. In the meantime, we thought we would share with you one of our favorite Christmas traditions in Tuscany… the very delicious Panforte di Siena!
1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter for preparing pan, plus edible rice paper, edible wheat starch paper, or parchment paper
1 cup unblanched almonds, toasted, and coarsely chopped – 1 cup hazelnuts (filberts), toasted, skins removed, and coarsely chopped – ¾ cup all-purpose flour – 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder – 1½ teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest, finely chopped – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon ground cloves – ¼ teaspoon ground coriander – ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg – Pinch (scant 1/16 teaspoon) ground white pepper – 1 cup candied orange peel, chopped fine – ½ cup candied citron, chopped fine – ½ cup candied lemon peel, chopped fine – ¾ cup granulated sugar – ¾ cut honey – 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare one 9 inch roundspringform pan; lightly grease the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan with some of the softened butter, place a round of edible rice, wheat starch or parchment paper cut to fit in the bottom of the pan, and then butter the top of the paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the toasted and coarsely chopped almonds and hazelnuts, flour, cocoa, lemon zest, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, and white pepper; whisk together to mix. Add the chopped orange peel, citron, and lemon peel. Whisk to mix well. Set aside. In a medium heavy saucepan over medium low heat, combine sugar, honey and butter, heat until the butter is melted and sugar dissolves, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula orwooden spoon so mixture does not burn. Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, without stirring. Brush down the sides of the pan with a clean wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Cook until the sugar mixture reaches the soft-ball stage and a temperature of 240 to 245 degrees F. Remove pan from heat and remove candy thermometer. Immediately pour the hot sugar mixture over the dry ingredients. Working rapidly, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. With damp hands press the batter evenly into the pan, smoothing the top.
Place the pan on a baking sheet with ½ inch sides to catch any leakage. Bake 30 minutes. The Panforte will not look set but it will firm up as it cools. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool. When cooled, Slide a small kitchen knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it and remove the sides of the springform pan.
Before serving, use a fine-mesh sieve to dust top of cake with confectioner’s sugar.
To make the star stencils, use a 1 inch star cookie cutter and trace around the cutter onto a piece of heavypaper, and then cut out the shapes. Place a pin in the centerof each star to hold in place on top of the cake and to make easy to remove stencils from cake. Randomly place star stencils on top of cake, dust entire top of cake with powdered sugar, then remove the stencils by grabbing the pins and lifting off.
Serve and Store:
Cut into small wedges to serve. Store Panforte in an air-tight container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap in foil and store at room temperature up to one month.
Makes 16 to 20 serving
credits: recipe and photo courtesy of The Baking Pan.