Panforte (Italian Fruitcake) Recipe
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A dense, chewy cake, loaded with fruit and nuts.
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1 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 small orange: juice (1/4 cup) and grated zest
1 cup chopped, pitted dates
1/2 cup diced candied pineapple
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 300Â° F. Spread hazelnuts in a shallow pan and toast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Prepare an 8" round pan: grease well. Cut a circle of waxed or parchment paper to fit bottom of pan, and grease paper.
In a small pan, melt butter, add sugar, honey, orange juice and zest. Stir to mix well, then cook, medium high, without stirring, to 250 on a candy thermometer, or until a small amount dropped into a small bowl of cold water can be gathered into a fairly firm ball--about 10 minutes. If testing by hand, start testing after 6 minutes.
While the sugar mixture cooks, mix in another bowl: toasted hazelnuts, chopped fruit, spices, flour and cocoa.
When sugar mixture reaches desired temperature, stir it into the dry ingredients. This will be a heavy, sticky mixture, so stir well to make sure all dry ingredients are incorporated.
Scrape into prepared pan. Moisten your fingertips in water and press batter into bottom and sides of pan.
Bake 50 - 60 minutes, until top of cake looks set. Cool on a rack, removing sides of springform after a few minutes. Remove paper from bottom when cake is cool enough to handle. Cake can be served when cool, but will improve if allowed to age for several days, up to several weeks. To age, store, wrapped snugly in plastic wrap or foil, in refrigerator.
If cake seems hard and dry when cooled, sprinkle top with a tablespoon of wine or brandy, wrap in plastic and let rest for a day or two.
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