Serves: Makes 2 (8-inch) cakes
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups whole unsalted almonds, toasted
- 2½ cups hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
- 2 cups dried apricots, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 2 cups dried Mission figs, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup store-bought candied orange peel, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1½ cups honey
- ½ cup water
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Position one rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Using the bottom of the pan as your measure, trace two 8-inch circles on the parchment and cut them out. Generously butter the bottom and sides of the pans, press a parchment paper round on the bottom of each pan, and butter the parchment. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, salt, and cloves. Add the nuts, fruits, and candied orange peel, stirring to coat them evenly with the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, and water. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, to dissolve the sugar, 3 to 5 minutes. When the mixture comes to a boil, decrease the heat to low, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and continue to boil, without stirring, until it reaches soft-ball stage (240°F on a candy thermometer), about 5 minutes longer. (It is important to not overcook the sugar mixture and take it past soft-ball stage; it will be sticky and too hard to spread.)
- Immediately remove the sugar mixture from the heat and pour it over the nut and fruit mixture. Stir until well combined; it will be sticky and dense. Divide the mixture between the prepared pans, spreading it evenly to the edges and smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Set the pans on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake the cakes until puffed and dark golden brown, about 1 hour. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely. When the cakes have cooled, run a damp table knife around the edges before releasing the latch on the springform pans. Remove the sides of each pan, slide the cakes off the bottom of the pans, and carefully remove the parchment. Dust the tops generously with confectioners' sugar.
- For gift giving, the panforte can be given as a whole cake, cut into quarters, or even cut into thick wedges. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap or clear cellophane.
Storing: Tightly wrap the panforte in plastic wrap or clear cellophane and store at room temperature for up to 1 month.