I was buying lunch at Molinari's today when I was convinced to purchase a mysterious wrapped and tied package that the guy behind the counter raved about. Well, they rave about everything they sell at Molinari's, but I was intrigued. "Panforte ai Fichi" is said.
I've taken it home and done some research and find that panforte is a very popular Christmastime dessert originally from Siena. I've never had it before, but I'm a learning 'hound. It's kind of like an Italian fruitcake. The one I purchased is made with figs, of course, but typically panforte is candied/dried fruits (usually citrus?), nuts, honey, spices and a bit or flour to keep it all together.
I couldn't wait until desert, naturally, so I opened up the package (which was cello-wrapped inside, somewhat less romantically). It's dusted with powdered sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. I cut myself a small slice. It's gooood. Not too sweet, but figgy and hazelnutty. The spices add a nice complexity, and the cinnamon doesn't overwhelm like it sometimes can.
So, this panforte is quite tasty, but I can tell it could be better--more deeply flavored somehow. I'm wondering if there is a bakery that makes it locally. The one I purchased is from Pasticceria Le Logge (see link).
I searched the board for references and only found one that said excellent panforte was to be had at "Rulli" which, I assume many Emporio Rulli in Larkspur.
Any panforte experts out there? I might have to try making it.