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Panpepato - LA CUCINA di TERRESA
April is forever memorably linked in my mind to new paten leather shoes and colored hen eggs, both the making and hunting of. Here in France, chocolate eggs reign supreme, filling boutique windows and store shelves with their myriad sizes, colored foil wrap, ornamented workings; and sharing their celebratory presence with docile chocolate bunnies awaiting to be devoured. Now, I thought I’d offer my attempt at a chocolate form, taste and texture that delights me. Italian in origin (Toscana, Umbria) and, though traditionally offered and relished in autumn and winter, it seems perfect to me for this unfolding spring. Here’s my variation of PANPEPATO from a recipe in the cookbook La bonne cuisine italienne des Carluccio.
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110 gr (2/3 cup) toasted whole almonds
110 gr (2/3 cup) toasted whole hazelnuts, rub off skins after toasting
85 gr ((3/4 cup) slightly toasted walnut halves
55 gr (1/3 cup) Muscat or sultana raisins (softened in warm water then drained)
60 gr (1/2 cup + 1 tsp) cocoa powder
100 gr (3/4 cup) candied lemon and orange zest, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
130 gr (1/3 cup + 2 tsp) acacia honey
Flour to bind, about 30 gr or 1/4 cup (I use rice flour to avoid the gluten)
Preheat oven to 160-170 ˚C (325 ˚F)
Cover the bottom of a baking sheet of pan with buttered parchment paper.
Combine all the ingredients except the flour and honey. Bring honey along with a couple drops of water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Cook until it registers 130 ˚C (250 ˚F) on a candy thermometer, about 3 minutes. The honey will be frothy. Immediately pour over the fruit-nut mixture and, working quickly, combine. Add the flour and continue to quickly mix. At first it will seem dry, but as you continue to work it the mixture will soften. You might find it easier to work it with your hands, in which event you can pull on a pair of rubber gloves. Form into a rounded loaf, and bake in the oven for 50 -| 60 minutes. Keep an eye on it while baking; the top shouldn’t burn.
It should feel somewhat soft and springy to the touch when done. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool completely. Using a fine meshed sieve, dust the top with a tBsp or so of cocoa powder. Keep in an airtight container (I prefer glass) for up to 1 month…perhaps longer, if there’s any left. The flavors deepen over time. Cut into thin slices and serve with Brachetto d’Acqui, a red dessert wine from Piemonte.