This version of panforte makes a perfect gift and a little goes a long way. Serve thin slices of it with coffee late on Christmas Day.
100g blanched almonds
55g plain flour
10g cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp ground fennel
1½ tsp ground white pepper
140g Australian dried apricots, cut in quarters
120g dried cherries
100g shelled pistachio nuts, unsalted
2 tbsp amaretto or Frangelico
100g high-quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
100g castor sugar
1 packet rice paper, to line tin (available from specialty food stores)
icing sugar, for dusting
extra cherries, pistachios, almonds and glace cherries (optional) for garnishing
1. Roast almonds in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Blitz almonds in a food processor until well chopped (about 1 minute).
2. Sift flour and cocoa together into a bowl. Add the spices, dried fruit, ground almonds, pistachios, liqueur and the chopped chocolate and mix to combine evenly.
3. Preheat oven to 125C fan-forced (145C conventional).
4. In a saucepan over a low heat, bring honey and sugar to 118C (measure with a sugar thermometer, it will come to temperature quickly). Remove from the heat and pour straight over the flour, nut and fruit mix and combine quickly. The mixture will be quite stiff and hard to work, but persevere.
5. Press into a round, loose-bottomed cake tin about 20-22 centimetres, lined with rice paper and well dusted with icing sugar. Flatten the mix evenly into the tin and dust the top well with icing sugar. Decorate with extra almonds, pistachios and cherries. Bake for 25-30 minutes. It will swell slightly but won't brown; you might need to bake for longer depending on your oven.
6. Once well cooled, remove carefully from the tin and slice thinly to serve.
Note: The result really relies on the quality of the dried fruit and chocolate, so buy the best you can.