Wife didn't do the baking this time, but as soon as I told her I was going to be blogging from this book, she asked if she could pick the first recipe. After considering a variety of "safe" items, she finally settled on something I'd never heard of. Panforte. (A lemon cocoa panforte, to be exact.) Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert that involves baking fruits, spices, and nuts in a syrup of honey and sugar. According to Wikipedia, panforte was even paid as a tithe to Italian monks. Would I accept a slice of panforte as payment? Only time would tell.
Before I could even start baking, I had prep work to do. Day ahead-type prep work. One of the ingredients in this dish is candied lemon peel, which wasn't available at my local grocery store, so I had to make it myself. This is how:
|Just big enough that they won't fall through the rack.|
When they are ready to come out, remove them to a wire rack and dust with more sugar, then leave them to dry overnight.
|If you flip them, you can dust both sides and have a better result.|
|Be sure not to burn the almonds or the panforte will be bitter.|
Then, in a medium-to-large bowl, combine the following ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of toasted slivered almonds, 1 1/2 cups chopped & stemmed dried figs, 1/2 a cup of (1/4 inch) diced candied lemon peel, 1/2 cup of candied ginger (diced the same,) 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 teaspoon of coriander, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, and 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon.
|It doesn't look like much, but it smells great.|
|For some reason, my inner child loved seeing boiling honey.|
|Ready for the oven.|
Panforte was a bit more work than I usually put in for a weekday dessert, but it was a fun project that I imagine some of you will enjoy. Wife didn't care for it--the fact that there are actual chunks of lemon peel and fig put her off, as did the bitter taste of unsweetened cocoa and almonds--but Boy and I really liked it. If you can see yourself being put off by such textural issues, you could always pulse the diced ingredients in a food processor, but I thought it added a lot of character to the dessert. The almonds were a plus for me--not too bitter at all--and the lemon and honey combined to make something truly unique. Panforte isn't the sort of thing I can see myself making all the time, but it is definitely worth trying.