Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tuscan Panforte di Siena ~ An authentic Tuscan treat!

An ancient Tuscan tradition ~ pronounced (pahn-FOR-tay)

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A taste of Tuscan history in every bite! ~ Mangiamo!

Siena is considered the Panforte capital of the world, and Panforte, literally means strong bread, in Italian, referring to the spices in it. It is a confection with nuts, dried fruits, chocolate and honey. It dates all the way back to the 13th century, and was even said to be used  as a form of payment for taxes.  Over the years, there have come to be a variety of panforte, but I noticed that most had black pepper in them. It is usually served with coffee for breakfast, or with a dessert wine after dinner. 

When I was in Tuscany for the "DaVinci Storyteller Experience"  I noticed panforte everywhere, from the small boutiques and restaurant storefronts in Montalcino, to large departments stores in Florence. It is most definitely symbolic of Tuscany!

It can be a bit pricey in the specialty stores here in the States, but it is so inexpensive and really simple to make, all on your own! And, if you want to wrap it up and present it like a real Tuscan, go ahead and wrap it in parchment, and then tie it up with a piece of rustic,twine. They make excellent gifts, too! Your friends will be so impressed; they’ll think you bought it in Tuscany!  Shhhhhh!!  I won't tell!

From Tuscany to your kitchen! ~ Benissimo!

"pepper & chocolate" panforte in Montalcino, Italia
6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate morsels, or chunks
1 ½ cups of roasted almonds, whole
1 cup of chopped apricots
3/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
¾ cup of honey
1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon of espresso granules
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
½ teaspoon of black pepper
½ teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine almonds, chopped apricots, flour, cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon. Toss to thoroughly combine all ingredients.  Coat the bottom of an 8-inch round baking dish with butter or shortening, then line with a piece of parchment paper, allowing parchment to extend over sides of pan.  The butter will allow the parchment to adhere to the bottom without slipping.   

In a medium, heavy gauge sauce pan, on medium heat, combine the sugar and honey and allow mixture to simmer.  Add chocolate, sea salt, coffee granules, remaining teaspoon of cinnamon, and allow mixture to come to a boil.  Once the mixture comes to a light boil, turn down the heat and simmer for two minutes.  

Remove from heat, and add mixture to chocolate and nut mixture, stirring quickly with a wooden spoon, as the mixture will stiffen quickly.  Spread mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 25 minutes (you will see the top begin to blister.)  Remove from oven, dust the top with cocoa powder and allow to cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 hours.  Pull the entire panforte  out by the sides of the parchment paper, peel off the parchment and cut into wedges. Each bite is a delightful surprise, with the salty crunchiness from the mixed nuts, contrasted with the sweet chewiness from the apricots.

Makes 16 thin wedges

*Store tightly in plastic wrap for up to 2 months*

Perfetto! ~ A perfect gift idea for the holidays!

Assorted panforte in a Florence department store (Italia)


  1. OMGoosh...I am so Hungry Now after Seeing this Beautiful Picture...Plus reading the Delicious Recipe!! Thank You Thank You...I can't wait to make this my hubby is gonna Love This:-)

    1. You are so welcome, Brenda!!! Thanks for stopping by!!
      -Cath xxo

  2. I am SO glad to have this recipe ! It IS sopricey....but now I can try to make it ......I love all your recipes girl.....just voted for all that are in contests ! Hope you win ! xxoo

    1. Lori,
      You are such a doll!!! Thanks you so much! I hope you do make this! It will come out fabulous! It is such the perfect little gift for the holidays (or, other times of the year) and since you make it, yourself, it is that much more special! I'm putting together gift baskets to include Panforte and espresso, and a few other little treats! You can make an incredible gift basket for around $15-20 bucks. Not bad, eh??

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your sweetness with me. It always makes my day!! xxxo


  3. We love this recipe and you have a wonderful site! Perfect for entertaining-can't wait to try it.

    1. BeBetsy! Hello, there!! Thanks so much for stopping by! I do hope you make this! It's so easy to whip up and so satisfying, knowing that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for the version they sell in the store.

      Stop by again and let me know how it comes out!


  4. I love both panforte and pampepato but I always have a problem in distinguishing them from each other. It's a good thing I came across your recipe and your blog. Lots of very good stuff here. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Rowena!!

      I love it, too! And, the bonus is that it 's so easy to whip up! Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out my blog! Your compliment means a lot to me!

      Come back soon!! :-)


  5. so....i saw your recipe a while ago and thought it sounded amazing...and when i realized that my co-worker was heading out for a vacation in italy, i thought: "wow! what a great treat for a welcome back coffee break!"

    well...i'd mentioned it to her before she left, so she actually picked up a panforte while she was abroad so we could do a kind of taste test. we just had that taste test, and i just *had* to let you know: it was unanimous...everyone preferred your recipe to the genuine article. no offense to the old country, but as far as our office is concerned, the "brooklyn ragazza" is queen!

    1. James....Whaaaaaaaat!!! You really mean that??? Oh my goodness. You are too kind. That made my day!! Heck, it'll make my whole weekend! haha. Thanks so much for taking the time to write those kind words to me. It really meant a lot!

      So glad you like it!! Thanks for checking out my blog!


  6. Nice blog.. Thanks for sharing this information with us

    1. Hello, Venkat!

      Thank for stopping by and your sweet compliment! I'm heading on over to check out your link now. Thanks for haring!

      Have a beautiful holiday season to you and yours!!


  7. I love this Blog !!! everything is so beautifully done:) you have inspired me Thank You, Rebecca @

  8. Dear Cathi,
    Thank you SO much for all your wonderful recipes. I tried the Italian lemon olive oil pound cake and my husband loves it. I just have a question. How long does it keep and how should I keep it fresh? Refrigerate? Do I warm it up again before serving? Please advise.
    Thank you.
    Lucy Conway

  9. Nice blog… thanks for sharing this information with us buddy Buy Home Appliances Online

  10. Cathi,
    We spent 3 mos in Florence with Family and vowed to make Panforte on our return.. Got together with my sibs and made 60 10oz Panforte and wrapped them accordingly for gifts.. More this year too. Thx for a perfect recipe.
    Rick Quattrini