slices of panforte surrounded by fresh fruit

Panforte: Traditional Italian Holiday Treat

Have you ever tried panforte? Chef Kate Ramos shared a version of this prune-studded holiday sweet in a cooking class, and we were hooked. Once you try a taste, you’ll wish you made a double batch.

slices of panforte

What is Panforte?

Panforte is a traditional Italian fruitcake made with dried fruit and nuts. It is surprisingly soft and chewy – and often described as a cross between cake and candy.

Like many old-fashioned recipes, there are quite a few different ideas of “the right way” to make panforte. Some recipes call for candied citrus peel, others use prunes, dates or figs. In addition to the dispute about what fruits to use, some recipes add a touch of cocoa to the batter. In certain parts of Italy, they’re very particular about the idea that panforte should be made with seventeen ingredients – a nod to the number of districts in Siena, the birthplace of panforte.

Kate’s recipe calls for California prunes + orange zest. We think this is the idea pairing. Zingy citrus notes play beautifully with the warm spices and prunes add a subtle sweetness that enhances the dusting of cocoa.

What to serve with Panforte

Panforte is a versatile, festive treat that is delicious on it’s own, or as part of a larger spread. Add it to a cheeseboard for a sweet option that pairs beautifully with cheese and fruit, wine or coffee. If you’re craving something sweet, Panforte is a lovely addition to a dessert board or cookie tray (it also makes a fabulous DIY holiday gift)! Since this panforte recipe is naturally gluten-free, it’s something everyone can enjoy.

Pro tip: the Washington Post suggests serving Panforte with super-creamy cheeses. We couldn’t agree more.

Panforte as part of a holiday cheese board
slices of panforte surrounded by fresh fruit

Panforte

Kate Ramos
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.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dessert
Cuisine Holiday
Servings 16
Calories 224 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 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 California Prunes sliced very thin
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180C). 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 (150C). 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 (120C)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 to 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.

Notes

Covered tightly with plastic wrap, this panforte will keep fresh for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition

Calories: 224kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 4gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.001gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 231mgFiber: 3gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 99IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1mg
Keyword hola jalapeno, Holiday, kate ramos, panforte
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Cocktails to pair with Panforte

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Did you try this recipe? Maybe you’ve got a favorite recipe using California Prunes that you’d like to share with us? Snap a pic and share it on social using #caprunes.

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