Panforte with chocolate – vegan

Panforte is an Italian sweet with origins in Turkey. Usually made with honey, I have substituted Golden Syrup to keep it vegan.

I’m not sure if Golden Syrup is available outside of the UK. It’s a light coloured syrup, similar in consistency to treacle/molasses. To make it more ‘Christmas’ I’ve included some warm spices often used at this time of year; cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and ginger.

Don’t feel restricted to the dried fruits I’ve used, if you prefer something else then swap it out but keep the dates, they’ll give it the right bite and mouthfeel.

This is a very rich and chewy dessert so you need to cut thin slices, they will go a long way.

Serves: 20

Ingredients

  • 125g flaked almonds
  • 100g whole, blanched hazelnuts
  • 125g soft, pitted dates
  • 120g dried cherries
  • 30g dried cranberries
  • 50g candied mixed peel
  • 100g crystallised pineapple
  • 200g plain white flour
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 0.5 tsp ground cloves
  • 150g vegan dark chocolate (I used Dr Oetker’s 54% dark chocolate for bakers)
  • 175g light brown sugar
  • 175ml (about 200g) golden syrup
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar for dusting

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180° C / gas mark 4 (160° C fan)
  • Put the nuts on a balking tray and heat in the oven for about 10 minutes to give a toasted flavour.
  • Roughly chop the dates, cherries and cranberries. They don’t need to be finely chopped but enough so that they will mix well without leaving large mouthfuls that just have one flavour.
  • Take a ceramic bowl (a plastic one might melt when you out the hot syrup/sugar in later) and put in the almonds, dates, cherries, cranberries, pineapple, mixed peel, spices, salt and flour.
  • Roughly chop the hazelnuts and add them to the bowl.
    • To save mess, I put the nuts in a bag or tea towel and bash them with a rolling pin until they break a little, it saves them pinging all over the kitchen.
  • Mix well.
  • Line a cake tin (at least 20cm) with baking parchment.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Avoid the bowl touching the water as this might burn the chocolate a bit.
    • When melted, take off the heat but leave the bowl over the pan to keep the chocolate liquid until you need it.
  • In another pan mix the syrup and sugar over a medium heat. In about 6-8 minutes it will start to bubble dramatically and begin rising up the pan. Keep watching and stirring as it can easily burn.
  • BE QUICK NOW
  • Add the syrup mixture top the bowl and scrape in the chocolate. Mix well to incorporate the syrup and chocolate.
    • It will be very very stiff and need a strong arm.
  • Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin. It will be very thick like a toffee now. Press it down flat as you can with the back of a spoon or your hand.
  • Bake in the over for 20 – 25 minutes. It will get soft and gooey at first and then start to firm up. It should have a little give in it when you press gently with a finger but not break easily.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool. This will take a few hours as the sugar reaches a high temperature and doesn’t let go of the heat quickly.
  • When cool, remove from the tin and dust with icing sugar.

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