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
310g white sugar
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.