No Tuscan Christmas - and increasingly no Christmas outside Tuscany—would be complete without panforte, a toffee-sticky cake of candied peel and almonds, the origins of which are lost in the mists of time. A speciality of the city of Siena, where it has protected status, panforte traditionally comes in two different varieties: white, topped with icing sugar, and dark, topped with cocoa powder.
Although associated with Christmas, panforte is made at other times of year. In fact, in July 1879, during a royal visit to the Palio in Siena, the white version was said to have pleased Queen Margherita of Italy so much that, like the tricolor pizza, it still bears her name.
This year, I decided to break with tradition and create a new version of panforte including some of my favourite Christmas ingredients instead of the traditional ones. I got the idea of using glace cherries during a visit to the mercato centrale in Florence where I noticed how much like Christmas baubles they looked.