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)
100g glace apricots, chopped
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ground coriander & nutmeg
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
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.