Christmas is probably the favorite holiday for many people. And I think it’s not because of religious beliefs, but because it’s family time, and time for magic and forgiveness. Christmas is different for every one of us. Every house has its own traditions and rituals with special food and Christmas decorations. What is your perfect Christmas? How do you see it?
For me, instantly come to mind Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. I imagine a small attic room in a Danish countryside house, with a fireplace and a small Christmas tree. Beautifully wrapped presents everywhere, under the Christmas tree, inside the red stockings, and hanging from a headboard of the bed. The children are playing near the fire. A silver teapot full of aromatic tea is sitting on a table and a sweet fruit pudding is waiting to be cut onto a crystal plate. The holiday spirit is in the air and everyone is happy and joyful. Heavy snow is coming down and covering every roof, but melting very quickly around the chimneys. The house smells like nutmeg and cinnamon – just like in “The Snow Queen”, one of my favorite childhood stories.
Christmas is a very extraordinary time, a time of hopes and dreams. I feel very wonderful around Christmas, I hope you feel the same.
- 5 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural)
- 2 1/2 cups nuts and dried fruits of your choice, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped candied citrus (I used orange marmalade instead)
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 Tbsp. candied ginger
- pinch of grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp red chile powder
- 3 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup honey (I used dark buckwheat honey)
- extra cocoa powder, for dusting the pan
- powdered sugar, for dusting the panforte
Preheat the oven to 325ºF (162ºC.) Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Spray the pan with nonstick spray and dust the inside with cocoa powder.
In a large bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, nuts, dried fruits, all-purpose flour, candied citrus (or marmalade), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and red chili powder. Add melted chocolate and mix well.
In a saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the sugar and honey until the temperature reads 240ºF (115ºC.) Add the syrup to dry ingredients and stir well. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Pour the batter in prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for about one hour, until is done, the center should be slightly soft. Cool completely then remove the bottom of the springform pan and peel away the parchment paper. Cover the panforte with powdered sugar and rub it in with your hands.
Panforte can be kept for several months, well wrapped, at room temperature.
Inspired by David Lebovitz recipe