Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Panforte Recipe and a Mouse

Don't you just love looking at ingredients. They are welcoming - just waiting to be used. And then the miracle of chemistry begins. My father was always bemused about my choices in life. He is retired but was a chemist. Daughter #1 (that would be me) did not seem to have a science or math gene in her body. But if you think about it - I did. It just mutated. For cooking is chemistry. Where the theatre gene came from - is a mystery for the ages.

Meanwhile I cook. And bake more than I used to - or it's the season. Lately I've been craving panforte. Not the $25.99/per pound panforte found in the specialty shops. They are too sweet, too cloying for me. I want dense, rich decadent chocolate - without tons of honey. I do want the sweetener! But I really want the chocolate ... and hazelnuts.

So I made some. Except for warming the honey, it all comes together in one bowl.
Panforte Recipe
1/2 cup flour
2 T cocoa powder
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
a bit of pepper
1 cup chopped (or whole) almonds
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
1-1/2 cups dried cherries
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli semi-sweet; altho' tempted to use bittersweet)
1-2 T orange zest
1 T almond extract
1 T Marsala wine
1/2 cup (little less actually) honey

Panforte Preparation
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Coat a nine-inch brownie pan with cooking spray. Mix your cocoa with the flour. Add the spices and mix, then the nuts and then the zest and dried fruit. Add the chocolate chips and coat with mixture. Warm the honey in a sauce pan till almost boiling. Add your extract and wine and mix thoroughly. Pour warmed honey over prepared mixture and stir quickly to cover all. Spoon, scrape, pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Panforte is done when edges pull away from pan and become a bit "cake-y."

Dense and rich, a little bit goes a long way.

And it went down well with a glass of wine.

Meanwhile, I am spending my eves with this mouse. His name is Stuart Little and I have an assortment of 17 young performers and five adult actors. It's - busy, high-energy, filled with giant ping-pong balls, huge combs, a gargantuan engagement ring and chock full of Stuart's adventures. I've been having a few adventures of my own with them!
Lovely bloggers have presented me with two awards which I shall happily display - after we open on Friday! Missing costume pieces, parents schedule for kid-wrangling, pot-luck for after the matinee and before the evening performance, publicity, shifts, photo call and oh yeah - the directing part have consumed me. And then there's this cookie-a-day I've been baking over at the Examiner. Which I know makes me certifiable for something...


Wanda..... said...

I have never had panforte...it looks like something I might have to make...Sounds like a cross between rich brownies and Christmas fudge. I have to go get some chocolate now Claudia. Enjoy Stuart Little.

Kim said...

I have never had panforte before, but it looks downright delicious. Is it like a brownie or a cake? I'm very interested. Sounds like a delicous Italian specialty that I must try :D
When I saw mouse I was thinking maybe you had a mouse visitor in your house. I'm glad to hear that it's the play! - LOL
I checked out your cookies on the examiner, that is one heck of a lot of cookies. The Marsala cookies are really catching my attention.

CheapAppetite said...

your panforte looks really yummy. I don't like overly sweet dessert either. And I sure think you're a good chemist!

Anonymous said...

The panforte looks scrumptious! Good luck with the opening of the Stuart Little play!

janet said...

Claudia that looks wonderful. The chocolate is calling my name!
You must be having a crazy week, break a leg with your opening on Friday!

unconfidentialcook said...

It's only 8 am here, and I'm already salivating for something rich and chocolatey! Man, does this look fantastic!

OysterCulture said...

Oh my, that panforte looks amazing! What a yummy treat just in time for the holidays. Made a bunch of Italian liqueurs this year, and this would be a perfect compliment

chow and chatter said...

oh wow this looks so good, after the holidays maybe you could guest post on your fav Italian recipe I want to learn from you, all the best for the play post some pics love Rebecca

Juliana said...

Oh! Never had panforte...sounds and looks yummie...would love to try it :-)

theUngourmet said...

I love taking pictures of ingredients as well and I adore Stuart Little! :D

My Little Space said...

Claudia, all the best to your up coming play! Break a leg!!! =P Is this the right greet to use? hehe... Btw, the panforte you made looks so scrumptious! Less sweet just the way I love the most. Thanks for sharing.

La Bella Cooks said...

Panforte is incredibly if made in the right hands, and I agree with you in the fact that too many are just too sweet! What fun to pair it with a glass of wine.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I've never made Panforte. Looks like I've been missing something good. Sounds perfect with a glass of wine.

Vrinda said...

Never had panforte..nice recipe.liked all the ingredients in them....

joe@italyville said...

So many goodies this time of year! Thanks for sharing your recipe Claudia and good luck with your play!

Reeni said...

This looks absolutely delicious Claudia! I'm adding it to my Holiday baking list. And I love Stuart Little! How cute.

Katy ~ said...

Oh, Claudia, this looks smashing. I think I have been missing out on a fabulous treat. I've only see the word in writing, have never until now see seen the recipe, have yet to sample this bit of heaven.

Stuart Little will be a fun presentation. I can just picture all the hubbub and excitement.