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Sunday, 16 December 2012

Panforte: the ultimate Christmas gift

I’m not a neat cook by any stretch of the imagination. I leave a trail of floury, eggy destruction in my wake. I’m proficient at most things in the kitchen, except the dishes. And although I’ve spent thousands of dollars on cookbooks, I can’t manage to keep to debris off them either.

My copy of Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion didn’t escape the damage: it’s a torn, worn, broken mess. It has no spine and the pages are stuck together. But to be honest, that’s when you know a book is a keeper and actually useful.

Stephanie’s recipe for panforte is now a family favourite. It makes a dozen small cakes that keep for weeks. Word of warning: it contains 18 ingredients, most of which can’t be found in an everyday kitchen cupboard. Head to a market and pick up exact quantities of each ingredient. It’ll save you weighing each one and there won’t be half-used packets of mixed peel or currants taking up space in you pantry until hot cross bun season rolls around.

I won’t recreate the recipe word for word. I’m assuming most Aussie readers will have access to a copy of Stephanie’s classic. If not, do yourself a favour. But the recipe is not complex. After toasting nuts and chopping dried fruit, all you do is mix the lot together with chocolate, honey, flour and spices, pop it in a lined tin and bake until crispy on top.

The Cook’s Companion recommends you enjoy with a glass of muscat or tokay. My buddy Nadia and I enjoyed Chambers Grand Muscat at an exceedingly fancy dinner a little while ago and I can’t recommend it enough.

I wrapped these for my team in brightly coloured paper and tied a bow around each. A deceptively pretty package for damage done to in the kitchen.


  1. mmmmmmmm muscat!! My favorite!
    I hope you have another book to add your your messy bench sitting under the tree by now from yours truly. Look forward to seeing you soon!
    Nadia xxx

  2. I do! And I won't read a page until Christmas Day! Thank you!