This chewy, very firm, dark and compact flat cake, of Italian origin, is flavoured with chocolate, nuts and fruit. Carefully gift-wrapped it makes a dozen or so special and unusual gifts for good friends.
For about 12 – 15 servings:
½ cup dark chocolate drops
1 cup Alison’s Pantry Blanched Almonds
1 cup Alison’s Pantry Hazelnuts
1 cup Alison’s Pantry Pecans
1 cup dried fruit (we suggest Alison’s Pantry Choice Apricots, chopped)
½ cup Alison’s Pantry Crystallised Ginger
¼ cup caster sugar
½ cup honey
½ cup flour
¼ cup cocoa
2 tsp cinnamon
Heat oven to 150°C. Melt butter and chocolate chips together in a large bowl in the microwave oven at 50% power for 2 minutes, or over a pot of hot water. Roast nuts in a shallow baking dish as oven heats until lightly coloured, about 10 minutes. Tip hot nuts into melted chocolate mixture. Stir in your chosen dried fruit and chopped ginger.
Stir sugar and honey over low to moderate heat, until sugar dissolves. When mixture bubbles all over the surface, stir hot syrup into nut mixture.
Sift in flour, cocoa and cinnamon until blended, then pour the warm mixture into a round tin about 24cm round, or 23cm square tin with bottom and sides lined with a Teflon liner or baking paper. Pat out evenly, with a piece of plastic between the cake and your hand, if necessary.
Bake at 150°C (on fan bake if possible) for 30 – 45 minutes, or until centre looks and feels as cooked as the part 5cm from the edge. Longer cooking gives a firmer, more toffee-like cake. Mixture will feel much softer than usual for a cake, but firms on cooling. Leave at least 24 hours before cutting with a very sharp or serrated knife. Dust with icing sugar before serving. Store wrapped pieces in the refrigerator or freezer, if you are making it some weeks before it is needed.
Notes: Replace half the cocoa with same amount of extra flour for a milder chocolate flavour. Mixture contains no baking powder, soda or eggs.
Download PDF version: Alison Holst’s Christmas Panforte