This traditional Italian dessert is similar to fruitcake and most common ingredients include nuts, dried fruit or glace fruit and spices. It is quite a flat cake and has an extensive shelf life. Panforte means “strong bread” and was often packed as nourishment on long quests in early days.
The flavour is warm with plenty of depth. Spices like clove, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg are put to use in creating this deep flavour. Honey is also used to add flavour and there are varieties with and without cocoa powder. Rice paper can be used around the edges of the cake as a finish, but is not compulsory.
Italian friends of my gran sent her a large panforte one year. It arrived mid-November and my gran was extremely suspicious of this “flat cake wrapped in paper that I have to keep until Christmas!” I have to say it was delicious and even my gran was surprised at how good it was.
I made my panforte with a little cocoa powder and lots of glace fruit. I added almonds and pecan nuts for texture and flavour. Panforte can be served after a meal with either dessert wine or strong coffee.