Chef Kate Ramos shared a version of this traditional holiday sweet that was loaded with California grown prunes and nuts in a cooking class, and we were hooked. Serve this homemade panforte as a treat by itself, or add it to a cheeseboard for a sweet option that pairs beautifully with cheese and fruit, wine or coffee. Since this panforte recipe is naturally gluten-free, it’s something everyone can enjoy.
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 1 cup whole almonds
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sweet white rice flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, lightly crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Grated zest of 3 mandarin oranges
- 7 ounces prunes, sliced very thin
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the hazelnuts and almonds on separate sides of a sheet pan and toast for 5-8 minutes or until the skin on the hazelnuts is beginning to peel away and the nuts are fragrant. Cool slightly.
Transfer the hazelnuts to a clean dish towel and gently rub them with the towel to remove as much of the skin as possible. Discard the skins and coarsely chop the almonds and hazelnuts.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, fennel seed, cinnamon, cloves, and mandarin zest. Add the nuts and prunes then stir to coat.
In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and honey over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and cook, without disturbing, until the mixture reaches 245°F on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour over the prune and nut mixture.
Working quickly with a wooden spoon, stir the ingredients until they are all coated. Transfer to the prepared pan, spreading the mixture evenly with the back of the wooden spoon. If the mixture starts to stick, dip the spoon in cool water.
Bake for 40 minutes. The top of the panforte will be sticky to the touch. Cool completely in the pan with the collar attached on a wire rack. Once totally cool, gently run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen any parts of the candy that may have stuck to the wall of the pan before releasing the spring form’s collar. Cut into thin wedges to serve.
Covered tightly with plastic wrap, this candy will keep fresh for up to 2 weeks.