There's still time to impress your friends and colleagues with your sophisticated Christmas baking (Photo: Emma Boyd)

Recipe: Christmas panforte

This festive Italian specialty is as delicious paired with a Christmas Eve nightcap as it is with a Christmas morning coffee – and yes, there’s still time to make it. 

I love the magic of Christmas. The carols, watching Christmas lights begin to twinkle as night falls, stockings hung by the fireplace and Christmas sweet treats all fruit-studded and spice-spiked best enjoyed at any hour. This panforte is a good example of such a treat. I have used macadamia nuts and almonds, apple-sweetened cranberries and apricots but I suggest you use any combination of fruit and nuts you have on hand. It is one of those easily adaptable recipes. It also makes a wonderful Christmas gift. This year we are going to have ours on Christmas Eve. We enjoy the Scandinavian tradition of each opening a book and sitting around reading, nibbling on something sweet and delicious. Merry Christmas all, may your days be filled with love and light, happiness and good health.  

PANFORTE

  • 150g macadamia nuts
  • 100g almonds
  • 100g cranberries
  • 100g apricots
  • 85g flour
  • 1 tablespoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 150g sugar
  • 150g honey
  • 100g dark chocolate (I used 70%), roughly chopped
  • icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the macadamia nuts and almonds into an ovenproof dish and roast for 8-10 minutes until golden. Keep an eye on the nuts as they can turn quickly and burn. Remove the nuts from the oven and lower the heat to 150°C. 

Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin with baking paper. Put the toasted nuts, fruit, flour and spices into a large pyrex jug and mix well to combine. 

Put the sugar and honey into a small saucepan along with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Heat over a medium heat until it begins to simmer, turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the mixture reaches soft ball stage. (To check if it’s at soft ball stage, fill a glass with cold water. After about 8 minutes or so of simmering, drop a small amount off the end of a teaspoon and if it holds together and forms a soft, pliable ball it’s ready.) Continue simmering until you reach this stage, then remove from the heat. 

Add the chopped chocolate to the nut mixture followed by the honey mixture as soon as it has reached soft ball stage. Working very quickly, stir the honey mixture into the nuts until it all comes together. Tip out into the lined tin and bake for 15 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool before dusting liberally with icing sugar.   




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