A chewy nut- and fruit-filled Italian Christmas cake. Serve in thin slices with coffee.
600g blanched almonds
400g figs, roughly chopped
180g candied orange and lemon peel, chopped*
2 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground allspice
300g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Rice paper for baking**
Preheat oven to 185C. Prepare two 28cm x 18cm baking tins by greasing them then lining the bottom with rice paper.
Roast almonds in oven till golden brown. In a large bowl, mix the figs, raisins, candied fruit, flour, cocoa and spices.
In a pot over medium heat, melt the honey and sugar together until frothy. Stir to dissolve. In a microwave or over a pot of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate pieces, being careful not to overcook them.
Remove the hot roasted almonds from the oven and add to the mixed fruits and spices. Add the melted chocolate, then the honey. (It is easier to do all the mixing while ingredients are still hot.) Stir the mixture well with a wooden spoon.
Spoon the panforte mixture evenly into the two baking tins. With wet hands, press down to spread the mixture and make a smooth, flat surface. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cool on a cake rack then cut into 3cm-wide pieces. Wrap with foil and store in an airtight container. Panforte will keep for a few weeks if stored this way.
* Instead of mixed peel, I prefer Italian candied fruit, available at continental and specialist delicatessens.
** Rice paper is available from most supermarkets.