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Author Notes: Very lightly adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field (Ten Speed Press, 2011). This is a traditional panforte recipe--but if you do not have white pepper (the medieval touch, Field says) or candied citron, do not let that stop you. (I've used all orange peel before; I've also used orange and lemon peel. Both are against the rules; both are delicious.) Also: candying your own peel is surprisingly easy and fast--you do not have to be orthodox about it. (David Lebovitz's Ready For Dessert has a low-key technique for soft-candied peel.) Finally, if you only have raw almonds, blanch them for two minutes and then pop them out of their skins. (It's fun!) - Nicholas Day
Makes 1 cake
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- 1 cup candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup candied citron peel, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- pinches ground white pepper
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons butter
- confectioners' sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the hazelnuts and almonds on separate baking sheets until the almonds are a pale golden color and the hazelnut skins begin to peel off, approximately 15 minutes (but watch closely). Rub the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel until the skins come off. Coarsely chop both nuts. Then combine the nuts, the candied citrus, the lemon zest, all the spices, and the flour in a large mixing bowl. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
- Butter the sides of a 9-inch springform pan, then line the pan with buttered parchment paper. In a large saucepan, heat the sugar, honey, and butter over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and measures between 242 and 248 degrees. (Or drop a small amount in cold water: it will form a ball.) This will take less time than you think. Working quickly, pour the syrup into the mixing bowl and stir diligently to combine it with the other ingredients-- the mixture will harden almost immediately. When it is blended, scoop it into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake at 300 degrees for between 30 and 40 minutes. Do not worry if the cake does not look done: it will be spongy and wobbly, but it will harden out of the oven. Cool on a rack until firm, then remove the pan sides and invert onto a plate. For a traditional panforte, dust with a blizzard of confectioners' sugar.
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