“This traditional dessert has been made since the thirteenth century.” – Gino D’Acampo

Siena is the panforte capital of Italy. This traditional dessert has been made since the thirteenth century in this ancient city, and is a spicy, sweet, fruity, nutty slab of deliciousness. The only thing that could beat it was the view from our hotel terrace of Siena’s other wonder – the Duomo.

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

– 250g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
– 3 egg whites
– 3 tablespoons runny honey
– 200g ground almonds
– 50g hazelnuts, skinless and roasted
– 100g walnuts
– 50g candied peel
– 4 tablespoon’s Amaretto liqueur
– 200g icing sugar

For the topping:

– 100g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
– 200g icing sugar
– 2 tablespoons icing sugar or sugar crystals to decorate

 

DIRECTIONS

Line an 18cm round flan dish or cake tin with cling film. Melt the 250g of dark chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl does not touch the water.

Lightly whisk the egg whites in a large clean bowl for 2 minutes – you just want to break them up rather than whisk them to a peak. Add the honey and whisk once more to incorporate.

Fold in the ground almonds with a large metal spoon and mix to a paste, then fold in the hazelnuts and walnuts. Stir in the mixed peel, Amaretto and icing sugar before very gently folding in the melted chocolate.

Pour the mixture into the tin, fold the cling film over the mixture and press everything down until smooth. Set aside in the fridge for 2 hours.

To make the topping, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Add 2 tablespoons of boiling water to the icing sugar, then add to the chocolate. Stir gently – you need to work quickly.

Turn out the cake onto a plate and peel off the cling film. Use a spatula to cover the surface with the chocolate syrup. Set aside for 1 hour until the chocolate has hardened, then dust with icing sugar or sprinkle with sugar crystals. Serve in slices with a cup of your favourite tea.

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