Wow, almost 3 weeks without a new post. And it’s the season for baking. Something I’ve been doing but not enough time to post about it in a relaxed manner. So what have I been doing for the last 3 weeks? Taking care of my sick kids (not all 3 weeks though). Also I spent quite a lot of time thinking about what to make for Christmas since I invited A’s family and mine to come spend that with us. I’m not the type to buy ready-made stuff and also not the type to keep it simple 🙂 so I’ve started baking and cooking since last weekend. The dinner will be Italian(-ish). I’m not going to give everything away because the family reads this blog as well 😉
Of course there will be a need for sweet stuff as well, maybe a little more than the average Italian family will serve for Christmas but in the sweets department I’m all for more is more 😉 Most stuff will be bite-size but it’s nice to have a variety of sweets to bite in 😉
Unfortunately not everything went according to plan up till now. I usually don’t repeat myself too much in the sweet department which means I want to try new recipes and especially new techniques. This resulted in some failures that I had/have to redo. This panforte I made was perfect the first time though. Not exactly nougat, not exactly cookie, I’d say it’s somewhere in between. Honey and sugar are cooked and mixed with nuts, candied orange and lemons, flour, spices and cocoa, and then baked. Traditionally baked in a round 20 cm (8 in) pan but I tripled the recipe and baked it in a large rectangular pan so I’d be able to cut out 9 mini panforte’s. By doing so I saved a lot of time by only making and baking the recipe once (and there were a lot of yummy scraps left-over to munch on :). The thickness is the thickness you’d have for a regular one, only instead of being 20 cm (8 in) they are only 9 cm (3 Â½ in).
The recipe calls for candied orange peel and candied lemon peel. I was lucky to have Italian orange peel in syrup which I drained and let dry for a day before chopping. Candied lemon is not something you’d easily find in the Netherlands and I didn’t have the time to make my own unfortunately. What I did instead was use sukade (the candied peel of the Citrus medica), though a citrus fruit it doesn’t really taste like lemon, at least not the candied version you can buy here. To compensate for the lack of taste I added the zest of 2 lemons.
The panforte turned out perfect and delicious, the good thing about this nougat/cookie is that it keeps for several weeks so you can start making them early (that is if I would have posted about it earlier ;). There are more panforte recipes but this is one from Sienna. From what I’ve read about it, it’s something that is typically served at/around Christmas time in Italy.
Even though not a typical cookie, I’m sending this recipe over to Susan’s Eat Christmas Cookies.
Below is the original recipe. If you’d like to do what I did and make 9 mini versions, just triple the recipe and use a 27 cm x 35 cm (11 x 14 in) rectangular pan.
Panforte Senese (from the Dutch version of Culinaria Italia by Ludwig KÃ¶nemann)
makes a 20 cm (8 in) panforte
75 g (2 Â¾ oz) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned, coarsely chopped
75 g (2 Â¾ oz) almonds, blanched and skinned, coarsely chopped
175 g (6 Â¼ oz) candied lemon and orange peel, finely chopped
50 g (1 Â¾ oz) flour
25 g (1 oz) cocoa powder
Â½ ts cinnamon
Â½ ts mixed spices
100 g (3 Â½ oz) caster sugar
100 g (3 Â½ oz) honey
2 tbs confectioner’s sugar
1 ts cinnamon
Line the bottom of a round 20 cm (8 in) (springform) pan with baking paper.
Preheat the oven to 150Â°C (300Â°F).
Mix nuts, peel, flour, cocoa, cinnamon and mixed spices.
Mix sugar and honey in a large sauce pan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved/melted. Raise the temperature and allow the mixture to cook until 115Â°C (240Â°F). Immediately add the nut, peel and flour mixture and stir till combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a wet spoon. Work as quickly as possible because the mixture will firm up when it cools.
Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan. Invert and place the right side up. Generously dust with a mixture of confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon, and cut it in wedges.