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How to make Italian Panforte for Christmas

Traditional Panforte Italian Christmas Cake Recipe

  • Author: Anna Dykeman


  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powderer
  • 1 cup almond
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup hazelnut
  • 1/2 cup shaved dark chocolate (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 cup dried figs (optional)
  • 1.52 cups candied fruit (or 23 cups if you don’t use dried figs)
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • wafer paper (or rice paper)
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Alternative Ingredients

  • Nuts – Walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds (for a nut-free option), sunflower seeds (for a nut-free option)
  • Candied Fruit – Candied lemon peel, candied cherries, candied pineapple, dried fruits like raisins, sultanas, or currants, dried apricots, chopped, dried cranberries or blueberries
  • Flour – Gluten-free flour blend
  • Spices – Either omit, ground ginger, or allspices
  • Honey – Maple syrup 
  • Sugar – Brown sugar
  • Powdered sugar – Icing sugar
  • Cocoa/Chocolate – Chocolate chips or even a chocolate mixture consisting of different kind


  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C) while you line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment and sides of the bowl – this is for a small cake, if you want a bigger one, adjust everything and take a bigger form.

    Note: Some traditional recipes also line the bottom with rice paper (edible wafer paper) to prevent sticking.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the toasted almonds and hazelnuts with the candied orange peel, citron, and dried figs – if you have a food processor, use it!
  3.  Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and white pepper – stir until everything is well coated.
  4.  For the syrup, prepare a saucepan over medium heat and combine the sugar and honey. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is boiling, then let it boil for a couple of minutes until it reaches the “soft ball” stage (about 240°F on a candy thermometer).
  5.  Quickly pour the hot syrup over the nut and fruit mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and with wet hands or a wet spatula, put it on the wire rack in the oven – press it down flat, as it will be very sticky (using something wet will make it easier on you).
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 300°F (150°C) for 30-40 minutes. The Panforte should be set but soft in the middle – it will harden as it cools.
  8. Allow the Panforte to cool for a couple of hours in the pan before removing it. Once completely cool, dust the top layer generously with powdered sugar – that’s it!

Tip: You can also garnish the top of the cake with some chocolate shavings.Traditionally, Panforte doesn’t have to be served fresh, it can last and even improve over a few weeks – so, yes! You can make this delicious cake ahead of time for your traditional Italian Christmas.