There is strong historic evidence that panforte dates back to the 13th century. A document kept in the Siena Archives, dated 7 February 1205, reports that the farmers for the Convent in Montecellesi were required to bring the Sisters - as a tribute - a quantity of "Panes pepatos et melatos". The fame of panforte spread beyond Siena and by the Renaissance this delicacy was documented as being part of many sumptuous banquets given by rich Lords in every part of Italy. Panforte, literally translated as "strong bread", is a dense, delicious nut and fruit cake that is a Tuscan specialty of Siena. Variations on panforte include candied and dry fruits, especially oranges and lemons, and almonds and honey. Dense and not overly sweet, panforte is moist and wonderfully chewy. Various versions of panforte are sold in Italy, including panforte nero, which is covered in chocolate. A thin slice is all you need to satisfy. It is traditionally served with a glass of Vin Santo, a fortified dessert wine from Tuscany. If you don't have the Vin Santo on hand, don't worry, it is delicious on its own.
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