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ROMANO'S SPICED CHRISTMAS PANFORTE
(Serves 8+)

Panforte is a traditional Italian Christmas dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembles fruitcake or Lebkuchen. It's an excellent alternative to a dinner party dessert, and can be made in advance.


METHOD

Preheat oven to 150c. Place the almonds, hazelnuts and cashews on an oven tray. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Remove from the oven. Place the nuts, dates, chestnuts, flour, cocoa, ginger and mixed spice in a large heatproof bowl.

Grease and line the base of a shallow 23cm round cake tin with baking parchment.

Combine the golden syrup or honey, caster and brown sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally brushing the sides of the pan to remove any sugar crystals.

Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook, without stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until sugar thermometer reaches 116c (soft ball stage).

Remove from heat and add to nut mixture. Quickly stir to combine. Transfer to the lined tin and use your hands or the bottom of a glass to press the mixture to flatten.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely in the pan. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen and turn on to a clean work surface. Remove and discard the baking paper.

The panforte will be very sticky so mould it with your hands. This is one of the characteristics of panforte.

Dust liberally with icing sugar and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks (if it lasts that long!).

Serving suggestion: A small slice can be enjoyed after dinner with a sweet wine or a strong cup of coffee. Perfect!


Recipe provided by Romano's

INGREDIENTS

145g hazelnuts, without skin

160g blanched almonds

145g cashew nuts, unsalted

150g dried pitted dates, halved

100g ready prepared chestnuts chopped

50g plain flour

50g unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ginger

120ml golden syrup or clear honey

105g caster sugar

105g brown sugar

5 tbsps water

Icing sugar, to dust

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