I adore this time of year, I absolutely love it! All year I long for my opportunity to truly wallow in the Christmas spirit and even though many of the carols claim Christmas involves sipping eggnog, roasting chestnuts by the fire and dashing through the snow, for me Christmas is the smell of sunscreen, mangoes and watermelon, hot sand dashes to the ocean and fighting for prime position in front of the air conditioner.
With that being said I still hold a very special place in my heart for traditional Christmas cookery...there is something so magical about the merry aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves and their ability to instantly transform your mood from one that resembles the grouchy Grinch to jolly old Saint Nic. One Christmas classic that I adore has to be fruit cake, however on a scorching summer’s day fruit cake filled with its plump, juicy, boozy dried and candied fruits and heavy Christmas spices no matter how wonderfully Christmassy is completely out of place. So for me, Christmas cookery is all about finding a balance between honouring tradition and celebrating the beautiful Australian summer. And this white chocolate, honey & macadamia panforte is a delicious example.
Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, a dessert that much resembles a fruitcake however without any of the heavy stodgyness. And for me panforte is a fantastic new culinary discovery that allows me to incorporate the wonderful Christmas spirit of a traditional fruit cake with its spices and dried fruit but in a new incredibly light way.
This version of my Christmas fruit cake is much more suited to our Australian climate filled with its luscious white chocolate, sweet honey and buttery macadamia nuts and incredibly still manages to ooze Christmas spirit with its joyful spices of ginger, all spice and cinnamon along with glace ginger, candied orange and pineapple. For me, this panforte is the perfect Christmas compromise.
White chocolate, honey and macadamia panforte
Adapted from Delicious magazine
1 3/4 cups (310g) chopped white chocolate
3/4 cup (265g) honey
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 1/4 cups (185g) plain flour, sifted
1/4 cup (55g) glace ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup (55g) glace pineapple, finely chopped (see note)
1/4 cup (50g) finely chopped candied orange peel (see note)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cups (200g) unsalted macadamias, toasted
Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a 22cm springform cake pan with baking paper.
Place chocolate, honey and vanilla seeds in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water), stirring until melted and smooth. Set aside.
Combine flour, glacé ginger and pineapple, orange peel, spices, nuts and a pinch of black pepper in a bowl. Stir in melted chocolate mixture until combined.
Pour into the cake pan and press down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden but soft to touch (cover loosely with foil if it is browning too quickly). Cool in pan, then turn out and dust with icing sugar, slice and serve.