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“Panpepato is rumored to have strong aphrodisiac qualities and has the ability to stop couples from arguing, two very good reasons to give it a try this holiday season.” True or not, this Italian fruit cake is far from any fruit cake I’ve tried. Somewhere between a cake and fudge, you will find this deliciously rich.  Trust me, your dentist will thank you. Thank you, David Lebovitz for this recipe.

Recipe: Panpepato


  • 5 tablespoons (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural)
  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) nuts; any mix of walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, toasted and very coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup (110g) flour
  • 1 cup (200g) chopped candied citron or another candied citrus
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
  • 3 ounces (85g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (210g) honey
  • extra cocoa powder, for dusting the pan
  • powdered sugar, for dusting the panforte


  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (162ºC.)
  2. Line the bottom of a 9- to 10-inch (22-23cm) springform pan with parchment paper. Spray the pan with nonstick spray and dust the inside with cocoa powder, making sure to get it up the sides.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, nuts, flour, candied citrus, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, and red chile powder.
  4. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir it into the nut mixture.
  5. In a pan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the sugar and honey until the temperature reads 240ºF (115ºC.)
  6. Pour the hot honey syrup over the nut mixture and stir well. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. I start by using a spatula and as the mixture cools, once it’s cool enough to touch, I use a dampened hand to get it flat.
  7. Bake the panforte for 35 – 40 minutes; the center will feel soft, like just-baked custard, and if you touch it, your finger will come away clean when it’s done. Let the panforte cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan. Remove the springform carefully (sticky edges might tear, so keep an eye out), then let cool completely.
  8. Once cool, remove the bottom of the springform pan and peel away the parchment paper. Sprinkle the panforte with powdered sugar and rub it in with your hands.

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