The Panforte is a beautiful mixture of nuts, raisins, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup. As a house-warming gift I received my current go-to cookbook by Charlie Cascio called Esalen Cookbook, Healthy and Organic Recipes from Big Sur, which is exactly where I found this recipe.
I love to cook and may be somewhat decent at it depending on what I'm making but everyone who knows me knows... I CAN'T BAKE WORTH A DAMN. But this recipe seemed simple enough, and sure enough, it was.
The results were delicious. The sweetness was given off by the raisins and the maple syrup, the crunch of the maple syrup covered almonds were perfect, and the texture of the Panforte was just a bit crunchy on the outside and tender (not to mention moist) on the inside. And if I had to note one complaint it would be that I could probably have done with less almonds, but Mr. Borscht seemed to think it was delicious and had ingested half the Panforte in 3 hours.
Obviously the nuts, raisins and the not-too-sweet feature of this Panforte makes it a very adult snack cake, which may I add, is divine with a cup of tea.
1 cup water
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn allspice
1/2 tspn nutmeg
1/2 tspn salt
2 cups Thompson raisins
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn baking soda
2 cups whole shelled almonds
Powdered sugar for dusting [(optional)]
Mix water, syrup and oil in a saucepan off the heat and then whisk in raisins, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Bring ingredients to a simmer and let simmer for about 3 minutes. If the mixtures doesn't look to you as if it is mixing well, not too worry, just stir it around a bit, I don't believe the point of this step was to have all the spices and liquid ingredients to mix well but more for extracting and infusing all the flavors.
While the liquid mixture is simmering, sift into a large mixing bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda and then stir in the almonds.
Then mix the liquid ingredients from the saucepan into the dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl, stir together with a wooden spoon until mixed but take care not to overmix.
Press this mixture into an oiled 9-inch cake pan and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. I opted to use a 9-inch round removable-side cake pan which worked greatly to my advantage as I had but to pop the sides off.
If you are using powdered sugar, you may dust the powder sugar ontop the slices.