It is said that Italians have been enjoying Panforte since the 13th Century. Originally thought to be the “tithe” paid to nuns and priests in Italy and even carried as a treat by the Crusaders, Panforte is now shared by many around the world. The recipe although simple has some intriguing elements.
Not exempt from controversy it is said that Panforte should correctly contain 17 ingredients to be truly called Panforte. The 17 ingredients apparently stemming from the number of neighbourhoods (Contrade) in the Italian city of Siena, where most believe this delicious recipe began. While many of the ingredients of Panforte are similar to other fruit cakes and even our own Dello Mano Christmas brownies, the treat is made unique by the use of a simple boiled syrup, sometimes chocolate and a special spice mix.
Panforte is traditionally made using a honey and sugar syrup that’s mixed with delicious fruits and nuts and a spice mix. Here at Dello Mano we use roast hazelnuts as our nuts however it is really a matter of personal choice. The Panforte spice mix a little different to most as it contains black pepper which although seems odd, really does highlight the fruit flavours. Long obsessed with this Italian treat, we are now at Dello Mano in our 6th year of presenting Panforte at Christmas. Mixing cultures as we tend to do here at Dello Mano, we wrap each of our handmade Panforte in muslin and tie it with string as an ode to a Christmas pudding and to help make it a great and unique Christmas food gift.
There are lots of Panforte recipes and this weekend we’ve tried a lovely one at home presented by Gourmet Traveller in their December magazine. If you have the issue it is on the last page.
Panforte is not difficult to make at home so why not give it a go? If you are going to buy one though, look around for one that is from a trusted source as the shelf life on Panforte is long and they often sit around for many months and in some cases years.
However, you manage to get ahold of Panforte, do once you have your hands on it, make a coffee or tea and sit down and enjoy a thin slice. As I sat with mine this morning it’s easy to see why the tradition of Panforte has been around for 700 odd years.