Italian Panforte

Panforte (‘strong bread’ in Italian) is a rich, dense fruitcake made with honey, nuts and spices. Traditionally served at Christmas, it is eaten after dinner with coffee or vin santo.

I figure it’s basically muesli and appropriate for breakfast. Perhaps leave the wine until midday though.

While you can use just about any combination of nuts and fruit, I use figs for the little pops of seedy crunch, cherries for tartness, and dried peaches because I find stone fruit flavours go beautifully with dessert wines. Traditional recipes call for mixed peel, but I prefer a little orange zest.



• 120g almonds, toasted
• 120g hazelnuts, toasted
• ½ cup each of dried figs, dried cherries and dried peaches
• small glass of vin santo (optional)
• ½ cup plain flour
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp grated nutmeg
• ½ tsp powdered ginger
• Pinch of white pepper
• Zest of one orange
• 50g dark chocolate, chopped
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup caster sugar
• 1 tablespoon water


1. Coarsely chop the dried fruit and soak in the vin santo (if using) in a large bowl.

2. Preheat oven to 180°C.

3. Line a 20cm non-stick spring-form baking tin with greaseproof paper and then grease the inside well (an oil spray is ideal).

4. Add the flour, spices, nuts and chocolate to the wine-soaked fruit and combine thoroughly.

5. Stir sugar, honey and water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.

6. Simmer until a sugar thermometer reaches 116°C.

7. Add syrup into the bowl with other ingredients and combine well.

8. Pour into the baking tin and smooth the surface by pressing down on the surface with baking paper.

9. Bake for 30 minutes then remove.

10. Allow to cool completely before carefully removing from tin.

11. To serve, dust with icing sugar and slice into wedges.

Recipe by Olivia Mackay,