Next week I'm heading out to hike from village-to-village in Ecuador and the Inca Trail, including Machu Picchu, in Peru. My ZIX Cookies Panforte is on both my packing and gift lists. I slice the Panforte thin and wrap for nibbling on the trail and I slice into wedges for gifts to friends I make along my journey. Wrapped tightly, the treat lasts for months. I’m heading out for 3 months.
Nuts and fruit:
1 cup whole toasted hazelnuts
½ cup whole toasted almonds
5 oz. dried figs
3 oz. citron (candied Buddha hand fruit)
½ cup sorghum flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. chopped or crushed fennel seeds
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Liquid ingredients (kinda!)
2/3 c. honey
2/3 c. sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 300F, then;
Prep your baking pan:
- Use an eight inch spring form pan (if possible). A cake pan can work but it’s more difficult to get the panforte out (of the pan). You can also use a 9 inch spring form pan. Cut rice paper to fit the inside bottom of the pan. You can use parchment paper but it’s sometimes hard to peel off the bottom of the panforte after baking. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter and brush the bottom of the pan liberally. The add the rice paper circle and brush with butter again. Then brush the sides of the pan with any remaining butter. Set aside.
- Prep your nuts and fruits: Chop the whole figs and citron into ¼ inch pieces and put into a large bowl.
- Add the whole nuts to the bowl with the figs and citron.
- Prep your dry ingredients: In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and whisk to mix well.
- Then dump the mixed dry ingredients into the nut and fruit bowl. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon.
- Prep your wet ingredients: Ok, now for the fun part. Put your honey and sugar in a medium size sauce pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a full boil (one that you can’t stir down). Boil for a quick 15 second count. Quickly dump your bowl of mixed ingredients into the saucepan and mix ingredients together quickly (like in 30 seconds or less). You need to complete stirring before the honey/sugar syrup cools (and gets too hard to spread). Put the wet mixture into the spring form pan and spread out to the edges and as evenly as possible. Don’t stress or forget to breathe! We’re having fun, right?
Put the pan into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes (for 8 inch pan) or 25-30 for a 9 inch pan. The batter will done on the sides and slightly bubbling in the middle. If uncertain how the baking is progressing, under bake a bit rather than over bake. The honey/sugar syrup when over baked makes a rather ‘hard’ panforte.
Let the panforte set (to warm) on a rack. Then run a knife around the edge of the panforte and release the spring form pan. Once the panforte is totally cool you can ‘pry’ it from the bottom (of the spring form pan).
Panforte is then ready to cut in wedges and wrap for gifts or for bike rides or hikes or with coffee or tea. One 8 inch panforte, because of its richness, can serve a pretty big group (at least a dozen).