Having never been a big fan of Christmas cake I was delighted to stumble on Panforte a number of years ago. It’s much denser and decadent version but probably slightly better for you than the usual Christmas cake recipe (my dad’s cake has two 2 blocks of butter and 12 eggs to start with). You can use any combination of dried fruit and nuts that you like. Pomegranate molasses can be brought at most specialty food stores but if you can’t get hold of it you can use maple syrup instead.
Makes one large or two small panforte, Prep time 25 min, bake time 25 min
1 cup dried figs
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup dried apricots
½ cup cyrstallised or stem ginger
1 cup almonds
½ cup hazelnuts
½ cup brazil nuts
½ cup dark chocolate pieces
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of white pepper
1 tsp cardomon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¾ cup brown rice flour
¾ cup honey
¼ cup pomegranate molasses
Preheat oven to 160C and line a spring form cake tin with baking or rice paper.
Lightly toast hazelnuts and almonds in oven then transfer into a clean tea towel and rub vigorously to remove hazelnut skins.
Roughly chop brazil nuts and dried fruit and place in a large mixing bowl. Mix through spices chocolate chunks, zest, hazelnuts, almonds and flour and set aside.
Over a medium heat melt honey and pomegranate molasses and gently simmer for about 5 minutes being careful not to burn.
Pour honey mixture over fruit and nuts and mix thoroughly working fast as it will set as it cools.
Spoon into baking tin and using wet hands press mixture down firmly.
Bake for 25-30 min then remove from oven and cool in tray.
Store in an airtight container and cut with a sharp knife to serve.
Merry Christmas, Happy cooking!!