Panforte de Sienna

I first tasted Panforte in Sienna when, having finished teaching a class at a cookery school set in the hills above Orvieto I spent a couple of days being a tourist before leaving Italy and coming home. I love Sienna maybe even more than Florence as, especially twenty years ago, it was less packed with visitors and cheap pizza dives.

I love the irony that we all exhibit when abroad, It’s fine for us to be there but we look with absolute disdain at other tourists, never considering we are of their number! So it was in a back street in Sienna that I found an ancient sweetmeat shop selling all manner of things I had no knowledge of. The Panforte was wrapped in beautifully illustrated paper and tied with a thin gold ribbon. I bought some on impulse, having no idea what I was buying.About a couple of months later I found my Panforte in the back of a cupboard and opened and ate it. It was quite simply unlike anything I’d tried before. At first I was unsure but when I found that all that was left was the wrapper I knew then I would be adding to my list of must have goodies along with Turron and nougat.

Made with candied peel, almonds, cocoa and honey, Panforte dates from around the fourteenth century, when the spice trade was in full flourish and spices were shipped overland often entering Italy through Venice.

The spicing is unusual as peppercorns and coriander feature along with the more usual sweet spices of clove and nutmeg.

Traditionally made in December it symbolised a prosperous and sweet New Year. Serve cut into small pieces, it is very sweet!

Panforte Di Siena
The lovely picture above was taken by the very talented Diana Miller.

Recipe

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