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Panforte

Panforte is a decadent, rich fruitcake and an Italian favourite. Originally from Siena, this traditional sweet can now be found throughout Italy and beyond. A chewy confection full of nuts and fruit, it is perfect served with coffee.

round cake of panforte with a few slices cut.
Panforte di Siena tastes of Christmas!

When we visited Siena, panforte was everywhere even on the breakfast table. In many stores, there were beautifully wrapped little cakes of goodness. With many varying flavours, there was something for everyone.

Traditionally only for Christmas, this spicy sweet is now available year-round and great to have anytime! Keep this cake in the refrigerator and these Italian butter cookies in the pantry and you’ll be ready for entertaining anytime.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Sure, Panforte di Siena is often available at good food stores so why bother making it at home? While this delicious confection might be easy to find, it is also quite expensive. Making panforte at home is quite simple and the result is delicious. The best reason to make your own panforte is that you can suit your tastebuds and make a variation using the ingredients you enjoy the most.

The best part about this recipe is that it actually is better if it’s made a few days before serving. The flavours develop and the cake sets for better slicing. So, make this and keep it on hand so you’ll never be caught out without anything to serve. Don’t just reserve this for coffee but add it to a cheeseboard to have with drinks or after dinner.

Ingredient notes

dried figs, nut, honey, sugar, flour, spices and candied oranges viewed from above.

The ingredients you need for this recipe are simple.

  • nuts
  • dried or candied fruit
  • spices
  • flour
  • chocolate
  • honey
  • sugar

Variations

This is a recipe that is totally up to your taste. I have used figs, candied orange slices, almonds and hazelnuts because that’s what I like. You could use any combination of dried or candied fruit and nuts. Change the spices if you prefer something different.  Just remember to keep to the measurements in the recipe. You can’t go wrong. This is a no-fail recipe.

Why not try:-

  • candied ginger, citron or other candied fruits.
  • dates, raisins, sultanas or currants.
  • walnuts, pistachios or pecans.
  • black or white pepper, cardamom, coriander or chilli powder.
  • white or milk chocolate.

These are just a few suggestions but this recipe is limited just to your imagination.

Instructions

4 step images to prepare the recipe as in the recipe card.
  1. Toast nuts and chop fruit.
  2. Mix in dry ingredients.
  3. Boil the sugar and honey for a few minutes then add the chocolate. Add to the dry ingredients.
  4. Press into prepared pan and bake.

Tips for success and FAQ’s

The most important step not to skip is the toasting of the nuts. Just 10 minute in a moderately hot oven will bring out the flavour of nuts. Whenever you cook or bake with nuts, be sure to toast first. It’s a simple step that makes all the difference.

Also, don’t over bake the panforte because it will be too firm once cooled. The middle will still be soft when it’s ready. Check by carefully pressing the centre. Your finger should come away clean.

Where did panforte originate?

Panforte originated in the Italian region of Tuscany back in the 13th century or maybe even earlier. It is derived from a cake known as panpepato or cake with pepper. Pepper was the spice of choice in the original version and can be included even today.

Can I make this recipe gluten free?

Yes, however you must use “1 for 1” gluten free all purpose flour or baking mix.

How long will panforte di Siena keep?

Tightly wrapped in plastic, it will keep for about 3-4 weeks at cool room temperature or in the fridge. Alternatively, freeze well wrapped for up to 6 months.

round cake of chocolate and nut confection with a few slices cut.

This post was first published on the 20th of December 2011. It has been updated with new photos, improved recipe and tips.

More Christmas recipes

Crostoli or Angel’s wings
Gingerbread Pizzelle
Italian Fig Cookies
Gingerbread Cupcakes from Sugar Salt Magic
Snowman Chocolate Bark from Sweet Caramel Sunday

Made this recipe?
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round cake of panforte with a few slices cut

Panforte Recipe

Panforte with Nut and Figs is an Italian favourite. Originally from Siena, this rich sweet can now be found throughout Italy and beyond. A chewy confection full of nuts and fruit, it is perfect served with coffee.
4.99 from 86 votes
Print Pin Review
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings:20 people
Author: Marcellina

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (150 grams) blanched almonds toasted
  • 1 cup  (135 grams) hazelnuts nuts toasted and skins discarded
  • 1 cup (180 grams) chopped dried figs stems discarded
  • ½ cup (40 grams) chopped candied orange
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all purpose (plain) flour
  • ¼ cup  (25 grams) cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (180mls) honey
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar (castor)
  • cup (115 grams) chopped semisweet (dark) chocolate

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 320°F/160ºC. Grease and line a 9in/23cm springform pan.
  • Combine nuts, figs and candied orange slices in a large bowl.
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa, spices, and salt and combine with nut mixture.
  • Combine the honey and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve the sugar then simmer over low heat for 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir through the chocolate until melted then remove from heat.
  • Pour into the bowl with the flour mixture, nuts, and fruit and mix until well combined.
  • You will find that once you add the chocolate, and remaining ingredients the mixture becomes quite firm and you will need some muscle to mix it. That all as it should be.
  • Press the mixture into a prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Cool in pan before turning out and slicing thinly to serve.

Notes

Tips for Success
  • Don’t skip toasting the nuts.
  • Remove the panforte from the oven while the middle is still soft otherwise the cake will be too firm.
Storage
Tightly wrapped in plastic, it will keep for about 3-4 weeks at cool room temperature or in the fridge. Alternatively, freeze well wrapped for up to 6 months
For more information, please read the post in full.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 37mg | Potassium: 269mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

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Recipe Rating




63 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This has to be one of the most delicious cakes I’ve made – thank you for a great recipe!

    1. Amanda, tightly wrapped in plastic, it will keep for about 3-4 weeks at cool room temperature or in the fridge. Alternatively, freeze well wrapped for up to 6 months.

  2. I prefer not using the cocoa powder. Should I add more fruit/nuts or more flour. This recipe sounds fabulous.

    1. Hi Joelene, I’ve never omitted the cocoa powder – I like the bitterness it lends to this recipe. However I think it is quite possible. I suggest substituting with flour but not equal quantities. Add 2 tablespoons flour extra and omit the cocoa powder and proceed with the recipe. Let me know how you go.

  3. Add me to the fans of this recipe. I studied many panforte recipes before choosing to make this one, and it met my every expectation on the first try. I am looking forward to making this a new holiday tradition in our household – thank you so much!

  4. 5 stars
    My search for the perfect panforte recipe ended when I found and made this fabulous recipe from Marcellina. I made it exactly to the recipe and would not make any changes. The taste and texture of this panforte are stunning, and the taste is even better after letting it sit for two days or so after baking. The recipe came with so many helpful tips, and I used these. This is the only panforte recipe I use now. Grazie mille Marcellina.

    1. Grazie Elisabetta! I’m so happy that you love my recipe for panforte. My family loves it too! Yes, it really does improve after a couple of days, doesn’t it. Thank you for your wonderful comment! Take care xx

  5. Ciao Marcelina,

    This recipe looks great I was just wondering is the oven temperature 160 fan or just regular. Grazie!

  6. THANK YOU! Made this and the choc salami for my office ‘welcome to Christmas’ party. What a hit. Delicious. And from my side both easy makes with your instructions.

  7. Would it be possible to make this gluten free by substituting the flour for almond meal or gluten free flour?

    1. Hi Annette, I have never tried it but I think it would work with gluten free all purpose flour/baking mix. Use a brand that specifies “1 for 1”. I may work with almond meal but the texture would be different. I’d prefer not to use almond meal. Let me know how you go. Enjoy!

  8. I remember my mom making panforte, which I loved. However, I remember that she told me that she used grape jelly in the recipe. Any thoughts?

    1. All the versions of panforte I’ve ever made don’t use any type of jam or jelly. But in saying that, Italian recipes differ when immigrants recreated them in their adoptive countries so perhaps this is a variation that worked well for your mom. I know my family has adapted many recipes because ingredients simply weren’t available. I would imagine that adding a couple of spoonfuls of grape jelly would soften the panforte and that is the texture your mom enjoyed. I can’t see why you couldn’t add a couple of spoonfuls. I’d love to know what you think!

      1. Thanks for your thoughts. I may give it a try. I only wish that I had gotten my mom’s recipe.

        1. Do try it, it’s very good! Yes, I wish I’d gotten a lot of my mother’s recipes too. I’m really passionate about not losing out heritage so that’s a big part of why I record my recipe here. Panforte is quite adaptable so hopefully you can create something like your mom’s recipe! Let me know how you go xx

    1. Hi Trixy, no this recipe is best with the chocolate. I don’t know whether it would work if you left it out. If you try it, let me know. Enjoy! xx

  9. 5 stars
    Great recipe, thank you!
    If I used this recipe to make two or three smaller cakes, what size spring-form tins would you use and what cooking time would you reduce to?

    1. Hi Thomas! Yes, I can firmly say that this is an excellent recipe! However, I have never made smaller cakes BUT I think I would use 2 x 6 inch/ 15cm cake tin and cook it for 15-20 minutes. It will be soft when you take is out but should harden. Of course, it shouldn’t be rock hard. Thomas, this year, I am going to make these into smaller cakes and update the recipe. Look out for the update in the next couple of weeks.

  10. 5 stars
    Marcellina, I haven’t had panforte before, so I’m wondering where has this been all my life?! It looks so decadent and elegant! Love the dried fruits and nuts and of course the chocolate! This would be a very special holiday treat!

    1. How long will this keep? I wanted to ship it to some people. I’m sure it can be without refrigeration for some time. I used to buy them from a monastery and they kept a good while. Thanks for your input on your recipe.

      1. Hello Brett. I think panforte would keep in a cool place for 3 weeks possibly longer. Be sure to wrap it well. If it is a hot, humid climate panforte will not last as long.

  11. That is perfect! I love it! You really got the whole essence of it all! Bellissima!

    Ciao Bella! Buon Natale!
    Annamaria

    ****I've been a little missing in action lately but hope to come back in the swing of things including getting back into The Daring Kitchen!

    Tanti Baci!

  12. Marcella – Would have sent you a separate email, but couldn't find an email address on the blog. Just wanted to send my condolences on the death of your grandmother and wishes for peace for you and your family in the new year.

  13. Seriously chunky and seriously delicious I reckon. You're right, small slices, but maybe several small slices. Many thanks for stopping by my blog.

  14. Now this looks like a panforte that I would really make – and what a great gift for someone too.

  15. Glorious panforte – (yes tiny pieces only). I think I need to make it this weekend. (Yes, will be baking in the mornings – it's the only way I have things on Christmas Day.)