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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A little bit of Italy for Christmas...

A bit fuzzy but you get the idea!

Like many people I decided to make sweet treats as Christmas gifts for friends this year. It's been was touch-and-go as to whether or not I'd be able to find the time so I wanted to make something quick and easy (preferably made from ingredients I already had in the cupboard) but exotic enough to stand out from all the gingerbread and shortbread. For some reason I seem to have an enormous variety (and quantity) of nuts in the house at the moment and I always have cocoa and spices at hand so panforte seemed the way to go. Then I read Lucy's funny post about her panpepato experiment gone wrong and remembered how good (if ugly) panpepato can be.

I didn't have time to shop for specific ingredients so I adapted Antonio Carluccio's Panpepato recipe from 'Carluccio's Complete Italian Food'. I didn't have any hazelnuts so I upped the amount of almonds I used and as I'd bought some glace apricots last week for some unspecified Christmas cooking I used them instead of mixed candied peel.

Panpepato (Peppered Bread)

170g blanched almonds, toasted & chopped
85g walnut halves
55g pine nuts
55g raisins (soaked in a little Muscat then drained)
60g cocoa
100g glace apricots, chopped
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ground coriander & nutmeg
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
125g honey
enough plain flour to bind


Preheat the oven to 160C/325F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl adding enough flour to form a stiff mixture. Using wet hands form mixture into a round loaf and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 30 minutes (you'll know when it's cooked because your kitchen will be filled with the a wonderful spicy aroma) and leave to cool, dust with cocoa and serve in thin slices with coffee or dessert wine.

How easy is that? If you need a last minute gift to take to someone's house over the holiday season this could be just the thing.


  1. Yours look so much more elegant than mine, not to mention tastier! Now, in response to your other question, I find molasses at the supermarket or health food/organic shop, but if you can't track any down, use golden syrup or treacle (treacle would be better, I think). Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that Santa is kind to you all, Lucy x

  2. This looks and sounds delicious with all those yummy nuts.....I bet the kitchen smelt delicious again.

  3. Hi Caz, my scarf has just arrived and it's so beautiful I can't take it off! I think it's going to be a permanent fixture around my neck all winter! It really is gorgeous and means so much to me because you made it for me.

    Thank you again. I do hope that you and yours have the best Christmas yet, filled with fun, festivities and food....ooh and lots of music and laughter too.

    Thanks again. Debx

  4. So glad you got the scarf before Christmas Deb. In that weather you're going to need it!