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  • Hazelnut Panforte

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  • 8 ounces dried, black Mission figs
    2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts
    1 cup whole, roasted almonds (see instructions for roasting hazelnuts)
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup honey
    Preheat oven to 300 F.
    Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan and set aside. If you don't have a springform pan, line a 10-inch round or square baking pan with heavy-duty foil, then butter and flour foil, which will help you lift baked panforte from pan after it's cooled.
    Trim tiny stem end from each of the figs. Slice figs into very thin pieces (each fig should be cut into at least 6 slender pieces); set aside.
    In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, orange peel, cinnamon and cloves.
    Coarsely chop the hazelnuts and almonds (cut each nut into 2 or 3 pieces). The idea is to have fairly large chunks of nuts in your finished panforte. Add nuts and prepared figs to flour mixture and toss thoroughly to evenly coat fruit and nuts; set aside.
    Pour the sugar and honey into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir gently to combine. Scrape sides of pan with a rubber spatula to remove any honey and sugar crystals. Now set pan over low heat. Without stirring, let mixture heat up so sugar begins to dissolve. Increase heat to medium and continue cooking without stirring. Syrup will become quite foamy as it boils. Do NOT stir mixture. Hook a candy thermometer to side of pan and continue to let mixture boil without stirring until thermometer reaches between 240 and 245 F, which is the soft-ball stage in candy-making terminology.
    Remove syrup from heat and immediately stir it into flour-fruit-nut mixture. Mixture will firm up immediately, but keep stirring to make sure syrup is evenly distributed throughout. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Moisten your fingers with tap water and use them to press thick and sticky mixture evenly into pan.
    Bake in preheated oven until mixture puffs slightly and releases a wonderful, toasty aroma, about 35 minutes. At this point, panforte will be soft and sticky when prodded with a dull knife. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack at room temperature. Once panforte has cooled thoroughly, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store in a cool, dry place. It will keep for months.
    Traditionally, panforte that has been baked in a round pan is cut into wedges. But for backpacking or hiking purposes, I prefer to cut the round into thirds, then cut each third into 1/2-inch-wide bars.
    Makes about 36 (1-by-2-inch) pieces.
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