Panforte is a nut-filled Italian confection - kind of a cross between dessert and candy. It is traditionally served post-dinner with a cup of espresso. The one taste I had of this in Milan a few years ago is still strongly entrenched in my mind - a whole sea of flavors - raisins, chocolate, honey, orange, nuts, the works!
Dates are so versatile - luscious by themselves, even better in most desserts, they even go really well with spicy and tart flavors! And fresh dates are simply delicious - another fabulous travel memory is of eating dates off the tree in Egypt. *so* good!
The idea here was to come up with a recipe for some kind of date candy - an homage to Panforte of sorts. And maybe go with some different nuts - pistachios and cashews instead of hazelnuts and filberts. I also decided to skip the cocoa and let the dates define the flavor of the dessert.
An homage to Panforte
8 dates - pitted
1/2 cup cashews - coarsely chopped
1/3 cup pistachios - coarsely chopped
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cayenne pepper
3 T honey
Juice of 1 orange
2 T lemon-ginger juice
1 T confectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Toast almonds in oven for 10 minutes, remove and chop them into small pieces.
Boil the dates in about 3/4 cup of water till they soften. Drain and save the water.
Mash the dates along with the chopped nuts, flour, cinnamon and cayenne.
Toss this mix into the saved water and cook on simmer, stirring constantly.
Add the orange juice and honey and stir for 2-3 minutes until the honey is fully mixed in.
Take off the stove and add the lemon-ginger juice.
Pour into a greased pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.
Cool for 10-12 minutes before removing the candy from the pan.
Ok, I then ended up dusting some confectioners' sugar on the candy - not a big fan of super-refined sugar anymore, but figured I'd use my leftovers. It was saved from being too sweet courtesy of the cayenne.
These go off to Chandrika @ Akshayapatra for A Fruit A Month, the focus this month is dates.