If you want to get a jump start on your holiday baking, this is just the recipe for you. This traditional Italian nut and dried fruit chunky, sweet and chewy treat I assure you is highly addictive. These little bites will keep at room temperature for up to three months if wrapped well in plastic wrap and up to a year if kept in the fridge. Of course, you won’t be keeping a batch around for that long because they are that good, especially when you have friends and family around to enjoy them along with you or without you if your back is turned.
Such a delightful indulgence and rather healthy too. With some restraint, a square or two is all you will need at one sitting. An added bonus is they are vegan friendly. I highly recommend you have some on hand all year round, no matter the occasion. They are easy to prepare, especially considering the yield you get from just one batch. Thanks to Zel Allen, the author of Vegan for the Holidays, for the inspiration.
- 2 cups pecans
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dates, pitted and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup prunes, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup spelt or unbleached white flour
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, divided
- 2 generous tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cup agave syrup
- icing sugar for coating (roughly 1 cup)
Line 3 8-inch baking pans with parchment paper. (Note, you may want to use four pans depending on how think you want the panforte to be).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, scatter the pecans, walnuts and almonds and toast them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they darken a few shades. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
When the nuts are cool, stir in the dried fruits, flour, half of the brown sugar (3/4 cup), and cinnamon.
Now make the syrup. Combine the agave with the remaining 3/4 cup of brown sugar in a medium saucepan and stir well to combine. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and simmer over medium-high heat without stirring until the thermometer reads 230° (110°C) — this should take about 5 minutes.
Pour the syrup into the nut and fruit mixture and, using some arm power, stir until everything is well combined.
Divide the mixture between the three or four prepared baking pans and pack down with a spoon. Bake in a preheated 325° oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool before removing. Gently peel off the parchment paper and then dust your hands with icing sugar and sprinkle over the slabs to coat.
Using a sharp knife, cut the slabs into small pieces. Wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 months or store in the fridge for up to a year.
Makes about 45 to 60 pieces