How to impress with homemade Italian treats

A spicy fruit-and-nut-packed panforte is not only delicious, it makes a heartfelt homemade gift.

THE PERFECT BITE: PANFORTE

Serve thin wedges of this traditional Italian treat.

250g blanched almonds

250g hazelnuts

310g white sugar

310g honey

2 cups plain flour

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

750g dried fruit (try currants, raisins and mixed peel)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 x 25cm cake tins or a tin 28cm x 38cm x 2.5cm deep (or a little larger) with baking paper and set aside. Lay almonds and hazelnuts on a separate baking tray and toast in oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C.

In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the sugar and honey together over a gentle heat. Allow to boil until it reaches 115°C on a sugar thermometer. Alternatively, test a drop of mixture in cold water: it should not disintegrate, but rather should be soft and hold its shape when picked up with fingers.

Meanwhile, sift the flour and spices into a bowl and add the toasted nuts and dried fruit. When syrup has reached temperature, pour into fruit-and-nut mixture and mix quickly and thoroughly together. Quickly tip into lined tins. Smooth mixture with a spatula and then pat mixture into tins using hands, which have been dipped in water, when cool enough to touch.

Bake in 160°C oven for 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, liberally dust with icing sugar and store wrapped in an airtight container.

THE PERFECT DRINK: AUSTRALIAN MUSCAT
Sommelier Laiana Ryan

The rich nutty texture of panforte is the perfect match for Australian muscat.

All Saints Rutherglen Muscat N/V ($22)
As fourth-generation Brown family members, the All Saints team comes from an incredible pedigree of winemakers and has an impressive line-up of fortifieds. This muscat shines with raisins, rich treacle and incredible concentration.

Campbells Rutherglen Muscat N/V ($19)
A complex and elegant style with a mouth filling richness.

Pfeiffer Rutherglen Muscat N/V ($20)
A luscious wine with an explosion of Christmas pudding flavours and caramelised sugar.

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