All countries have their favorite holidays, for each of which there is always a typical dish. It is no secret that the Italians especially venerated the Nativity of Christ. According to tradition, Panforte (dessert with candied fruits and nuts) is baked on this day in different regions. It is multicomponent, but simple enough to prepare. Dessert is one of the few incarnations of a medieval courtyard. For its long history and top quality, Panforte di Siena was awarded the IGP category in 2013.
The ancestor of panforte is considered a simple dessert called panmelato (panmelato), which appeared in the X century. These are pastries made from flour and water, to which honey and fruits were added to taste. During the summer and spring, such sweetness was moldy and dried, acquiring a characteristic astringent taste. By the second half of the 13th century, spices from the East appeared in Italy, including pepper. They added it to the old recipe, turning it into a treat with the name Panpepato - the original name of Panforte, literally meaning “peppered bread”.
The novelty was present exclusively at the tables of wealthy people and the clergy, since expensive and rare spices in that era made dessert inaccessible to the general population. In 1675, Panfort was developed in Siena with 17 ingredients according to the number of city blocks. A similar recipe has survived and is considered a classic.
There are several legends about how Panfort was born. According to one of them, a woman who had gone to the monastery because of unrequited love was cooking panmelato. But, having heard the voice of her lover outside the window, from the excitement she mixed everything that was at hand, eventually getting panfort. According to another version, Nun Bert created a high-energy dessert with honey, almonds, peppers and spices in order to help restore strength to Siena, weakened by a prolonged blockade of the city.
Whatever the truth about the birth of Italian sweetness, even today most Tuscans celebrate Christmas accompanied by their beloved panfort. Visitors can easily buy it from numerous merchants in the market.
The only dessert recipe that has strict specificity and control and is marked by the Protected Geographical Name (IGP) is Panforte di Siena. It includes 4 cooking options:
- Panforte black (Panforte nero) or Panpepato - A classic version with a coating based on spices. An ancient recipe provided for the use of fruits (orange, figs, melon), nuts, honey (later replaced with sugar), flour and spices.
- Chocolate Panforte (Panforte al cioccolato) - a variety that appeared in 1820 thanks to Giovanni Parenti - the founder of the first factory producing "pepper bread". The idea to add cocoa to the recipe came probably due to the growing popularity of Sacher cake. It is also called panforte for ladies (panforte delle dame) due to its milder taste.
- Panforte white (Panforte bianco) or Panforte Margherita (Panforte margherita) - A variant invented in 1879 on the occasion of the visit to Siena of Margarita of Savoy. The icing from the spice mixture was replaced with a coating of vanilla sugar. The taste of the dessert is sweet and refined, with a characteristic aroma of vanilla and pine nuts.
- Panforte Fiorito or Blooming (Panforte fiorito) is a white variety of sweets decorated with sugar flowers. It is sold in bright boxes with floral patterns or images of famous artists.
Some types of Siena panforte are not among the traditional ones, but they are equally popular:
- Chestnut Panforte (Panforte di castagna) - A dessert that provides for the replacement of chestnut wheat flour. More common in pastries in southern Siena.
- Panforte with dates and almonds (Panforte datteri e mandorle) - new in 2015. In it, candied fruit is completely replaced by dates and raisins, the content of almonds is about 16% of the total mass. The main component is wheat flour.
There are many variations of baking in Italy. More recently, they preferred more dense, hard chewing pastries, now soft desserts are in great demand.
Cooking panforte at home is surprisingly simple. There are many recipes, but the classics will always be relevant. Therefore, we will present 3 traditional options to your attention: nero, cioccolato, margherita.
Despite the abundance of recipes, all of them are different only in ingredients and small nuances. Cooking can be reduced to one clear algorithm of action.
The cooking process of all types of panfort is divided into several stages:
- Preparation of ingredients, which includes: sifting flour, roasting (if necessary) and chopping nuts and candied fruits. In this case, the pieces, both the first and second, should be quite large.
- Selection and preparation of a baking dish. The classic version of panfort is round. To dessert well behind the walls, the bottom should be sprinkled with starch, and spread on the sides with parchment paper.
- Mix candied fruits and nuts with flour and spices.
- Dissolving sugar in hot water. If honey is present in the recipe, then it must be melted in a water bath.
- Combining dry components with a liquid, hot base.
- The distribution of the dough in the form with pressure for the desired density (layer thickness of about 2 cm) and baking for 30 minutes at 150 degrees.
- Sprinkling cooled baking.
So, what to do, we know, is now determined with the necessary ingredients.
To prepare a classic dessert - black panforte, you will need, like 200 years ago, 17 components, two of which are water and fire. The remaining 15 include:
- Candied melon - 120 g;
- Candied orange peel - 80 g;
- Dried figs (as soft as possible) - 4 pcs.;
- Almonds - 250 g;
- Hazelnuts - 120 g;
- Flour - 180 g;
- Honey - 200 g;
- Sugar - 200 g;
- Thin waffles (for covering the bottom of the mold);
- Coriander - 3.5 tsp with a slide;
- Cinnamon - 4 tsp with a slide;
- Allspice - 2 tsp;
- Nutmeg - 1 tsp;
- Clove - 1 tsp. 4
- Ground black pepper - 0.5 tsp
The amount of ingredients presented is enough to bake 2 large or about 10 small panforts.
From the nuances of the recipe, it can be noted that:
- Here, sugar is melted with honey without adding water until bubbles and hiss appear. If the honey is too thick, a small amount of liquid is added.
- The bottom of the form is not sprinkled with starch, but is covered with waffles (based on water and flour).
- Spices are mixed, and approximately ¾ of the total number of spices is added to the dough. The rest goes to powder the finished baking.
An original panforte recipe requires the presence of pepper. But not everyone is a connoisseur of this spice, especially in sweet pastries. Therefore, some confectioners in modern Italy exclude the spicy component from the dessert.
The chocolate panforte recipe from 1877 is stocked with the following ingredients:
- Cocoa powder - 30 g;
- Candied orange peel - 50 g;
- Candied melon - 400 g;
- Almonds - 350 g;
- Hazelnuts - 60 g;
- Honey - 25 g;
- Sugar - 375 g;
- Flour - 125 g;
- Cinnamon powder - 30 g;
- Ground cloves - 20 g;
- Coriander - 30 g;
- Nutmeg - 12 g;
- Black pepper - 2.5 g;
- Dry, crushed zest of bitter orange - 30 g.
The process of making chocolate panfort differs from the general one only in that cocoa is added at the stage of mixing the dry ingredients. The bottom of the baking dish, like in the classic version, can be covered with waffles or rice paper instead of dusting with starch.
In the final process, about 1 kg of Italian sweets is obtained. Ready dessert is sprinkled with powdered sugar or poured with melted chocolate, depending on your preference.
Queen Margarita's Goodies Recipe, dated 1880, includes:
- Candied orange peel - 50 g;
- Candied melon - 300 g;
- Almonds - 300 g;
- Sugar - 250 g;
- Flour - 120 g;
- Ground cinnamon - 5 g;
- Nutmeg - 5 g;
- Vanilla powder - 5 g;
- Vanilla sugar - at least 5 g.
In the modern version of the treat, the rules provide for the use of honey and sugar in a ratio of 50/50. Also, part of candied fruit (approximately 25%) is replaced by candied pine nuts. Ready-made pastries sprinkled with vanilla sugar.
Italian sweets are stored for 40 days in the refrigerator. All types of panforte go well with white wine and are served at the table at the end of the meal.
Calorie content and benefits
Panforte is a sweet dish and, therefore, has a high calorie content. It is primarily composed of carbohydrates, then fats, and finally proteins. 100 g of classic dessert contains about 400 kcal with an approximate content of:
- Protein 9 g;
- Fat 15.5 g;
- Carbohydrates 53 g.
The positive fact is that the fatty portion of 85% consists of unsaturated lipids. The use of only plant components causes a complete absence of cholesterol. Dainty has abundant dietary fiber.
Honey, nuts and candied fruit are sources of minerals necessary for the normal functioning of the body. There is no vitamin benefit, since the product undergoes such heat treatment at which the destruction of all groups of biologically active substances occurs.
Panforte is not suitable for overweight people with type II diabetes mellitus, as well as gluten intolerance. The optimal portion of Italian sweets for a healthy middle-aged person is about 30 g (110 kcal).
Now you have met another old Italian dessert with an unusually strong name. You can enjoy it, of course, all year round, but Panforte gets a special taste in Italy during Christmas. Live broadly, take care not only of loved ones, travel festively and remember: "They protect the dress again, and the panfort from the sweet tooth!"