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Panforte - Italian Fruitcake (Gluten-Free)

This recipe comes to us from Ann Sokolowski.

The following is a gluten-free recipe for Panforte, a wonderful Italian fruitcake from Sienna which dates back five hundred years! It must be good if it has lasted that long, right? The dried fruit mixture is predominately figs and dates, but a combination with other fruits works well, too. Note the use of the rice crackers. Typically, a special rice wafer is used to top it, but this is usually only found in certain specialty stores.

Makes: 14 servings
Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: at 375 for 35 minutes
Stand: 24 hours

For Preparing pan:
Nonstick vegetable cooking spray
(preferably butter-flavored)
1 package (3.5 ounces) thin crunchy unflavored rice crackers, pulsed in
food processor until uniformly fine

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Panforte:
1 ¼ cups blanched whole almonds
¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons walnuts
2/3 cup toasted whole hazelnuts (see Note)
½ cup dried figs or mixed dried fruit bits such as raisins, apples,
peaches, plums
½ cup diced pitted dates
1 cup finely diced candied citron
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg or ground mace
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black or white pepper
¾ cup light honey
½ cup rice-cracker crumbs (from preparing pan)

Topping: 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of 10 inch spring form pan with cooking spray. Measure out and reserve ½ cup rice-cracker crumbs. Use remaining crumbs to thickly coat bottom and sides of prepared pan.
  • Panforte: Pulse almonds, walnuts in processor until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl. Pulse hazelnuts in processor until coarsely chopped. Add to bowl. Process figs and dates in processor until finely ground. Add to bowl of nuts along with citron.
  • Mix the sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in small saucepan, pressing out lumps. Blend in honey. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes; dont let boil.
  • Pour hot honey mixture over fruits and nuts; mix well. Scoop into prepared pan. With buttered hands, pat firmly into pan, pushing to edge; smooth top. Scatter reserved ½ cup cracker crumbs over top; press in.
  • Bake in 375 degrees over 35 minutes; Panforte will feel soft. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Run thin-bladed spatula around edge to loosen. Remove pan side. Carefully slide spatula underneath the Panforte to separate from pan bottom, but do not lift off pan bottom. Cool Panforte on pan bottom on wire rack to room temperature. Slide off pan bottom onto large square of heavy-duty foil.
  • Topping: Sift sugar over panforte. Wrap in foil; let season at least 24 hours. If desired, dust top with more confectioners sugar and sprinkle ground nuts around edge.

Note: Spread hazelnuts in 9 inch pie pan. bake in 375 oven 10 minutes. Rub briskly in clean kitchen towel to remove most of brown skins.

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