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Panforte • Panpepato

A flat cake from the Italian city of Siena.

Panforte (pronounced pan-FOHR-tay) is a sweet pastry from Italy. It is a specialty, more precisely a Christmas fruit cake that originated in the Tuscan city of Siena and its immediate surroundings (Siena province and also Massa Marittima). Panforte is above all a traditional Christmas pastry. Although it has some similarities with the "British" fruitcake (it contains the traditional fruits, nuts and spices), its consistency and taste are quite different. When you bite into a piece of Panforte, you will be surprised at how chewy it is. This chewy texture comes from mixing fruits, nuts, spices and flour (just enough to bind the ingredients) with a cooked syrup of sugar and honey. This sugar-honey syrup and the addition of melted chocolate and cocoa powder give this Christmas cake an almost candy-like texture and flavor that is hard to resist, even for those who normally dislike fruitcake. It is now eaten outside of the Christmas season as a dessert along with Vin Santo or espresso.

Unlike torrone, which is more common in northern Italy, panforte is quite soft; it differs from gingerbread in that the ingredients are only coarsely chopped and baked without leavening agents.

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