This panforte fruit and nut cake hails from Italy. Feel free to play with your own spices and flavorings, but I love this cherry, chocolate and hazelnut version.
4 oz (3/4 c) whole hazelnuts
Butter for Greasing pan
1/2 c dried cherries (I use Montmorency from Costco)
2 T brandy
3 oz (3/4 c) high quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 oz (1/2 c) high quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 c plus 1/2 T all purpose flour
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
2/3 c honey
2/3 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 t high quality cocoa powder
Heat oven to 350. Spread hazelnuts on a baking pan. Bake until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Rub nuts in a clean kitchen towel to remove skins. Set aside.
Reduce oven heat to 300. Brush a 9″ spring form pan with soft butter. Fit with a circle of parchment paper, brush parchment with butter and set aside.
Combine cherries, hazelnuts, brandy, and chocolates in a medium bowl; set aside.
Sift 1 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl.
Combine honey and brown sugar in a saucepan. Stirring, bring sugar to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Combine with dried-fruit mixture, stirring until combined. Fold in flour; mix to combine. Pour into prepared pan.
With wet hands or a small metal spatula, press the mixture to form a level layer. Combine the remaining 1/2 tablespoon flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and cocoa. Sift over unbaked cake. Bake until set, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool. Gently brush off flour coating before serving.
This fruit cake does not require aging though I find its flavor improves if it does.
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