Still Life With Wooden Spoon

Panforte anyone?
May 9, 2010, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I decided to make panforte as a treat for Mother’s Day. It’s one of my Mom’s favourite nibbles, and I tweaked the recipe somewhat to include her fruit of choice, figs. This is usually a Christmassy affair, but I don’t think that this dense combination of nuts, glacé fruit and spices is something that should ever be kept for only once a year. It’s somewhere between nougat and Christmas cake, but without all the raisins to spoil it.

Now, this recipe requires a hint of daring, because it requires one to get out the cooking thermometer and delve into the somewhat scary world of cooking with molten sugar. I don’t think I’ve ever gone through this ordeal without at least a few scars afterwards, but if you grit your teeth, and prepare for a bit of pain, the results are worth it. This time I managed to flick an incendiary piece of the molten sugar onto my lip, but such hazards are to be expected.

So, one begins by chopping up and combining a combo of glacé fruit and nuts and then combining it with cocoa powder, spices and a hint of flour. Then you melt sugar and honey until it hits the magic mark on the thermometer and, throwing caution to the wind, combining the two mixtures. Once coaxed into prepared pans (quickly, mind you, because this solidifies incredibly quickly) and baked for half an hour, the results are always magical. Once it’s done, a liberal dusting of icing sugar keeps it from sticking to all and sundry. Sliced into slivers and served with coffee, you’re ready to impress everyone with your delightful confection, and street-cred scars…


150g mixed nuts (toasted) – I used almonds and walnuts.
175 g glacé cherries, peel and figs (chopped)
50 g flour
25 g cocoa powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spices
100 g caster sugar
100 g honey

Line the bottom of a round 20 cm pan with baking paper.
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Mix nuts, fruit, flour, cocoa, cinnamon and mixed spices.

Mix sugar and honey in a large sauce pan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved/melted. Raise the temperature and allow the mixture to cook until 115°C. Immediately add the nut, peel and flour mixture and stir until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a wet spoon. Work as quickly as possible because the mixture will firm up when it cools.
Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan. Invert and place the right side up. Generously dust with a mixture of icing sugar.

I suggest some daring, devil-may-care music while making this. Morrissey is always a good choice when throwing caution to the wind and “You are the Quarry” has the right hauteur for the occasion. That, and I just like listening to Morrissey. No-one usually lets me, but when in possession of a vat of scorching sugar, not many will argue with one’s music choice.


1 Comment so far
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haha, I like this 🙂

Comment by Candice

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