Its Christmas Eve, so in the true spirit of things, there is the enevitable flurry of excitement that only Kids can excel at. First there was the Class Christmas party that I had helped out. Got the kids involved in a fragrant project that they seemed to love, making a little single serve mulling spice sachet for their parents, complete with a recipe instruction.
This is the first year that we've had a Christmas tree set up at home, thanks to the incessant pleas and wide eyed requests from the kids. And as I introduce a new tradition at home, true to my Indian roots, I could not but help inaugurate the decorating process with a Ganesha figurine as my first ornament. I may have just stumbled on a novel way of including a new touch to tree decorations that may be welcomed in many an Indian home. Decorating the tree in a Navratri 'Golu style. Must remember to include figurine shopping, the next time I visit India.
For my Christmas treat, I decided to bake this chewy fruitcake (I know, that is a taboo word in the US of A and the butt of many a joke). The Panforte is a classic Italian confection and extremely simple to cobble up. To give it an Indian touch, I substituted Chai masala powder instead of the blend of spices used in the recipe I followed from Food52. The result, a fragrant addictive fruitcake with a fabulous aroma that reminds me of my Indian roots. although the original recipe calls for candied citron, I omitted it since the store bought stuff tasted terrible and did not even remotely resemble anything citrus. For instructions on how to make your own candied citrus, just click on this link for an informative tutorial from David Lebovitz.
Panforte: (adapted from Food52, makes one 9 inch confection that yields about 12 - 16 servings)
1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
1 cup candied Lemon peel, finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon Orange zest, grated
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon Chai spice blend
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cups honey
1/2 cup golden syrup (I used Lyles)
2 tablespoons butter
confectioners' sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 300 F. butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.
In a cast iron skillet, toast the hazelnuts on a low heat until the brown skin starts peeling off. Remove the skins and coarsely chop the nuts. Add the sliced almonds to the hot skillet and toast them to a golden color as well..
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, nuts, chai spice blend, the candied citrus peel and zest. stir to coat the nuts & peels well with the flour.
Combine the sugar, honey, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan. heat and allow the sugar to boil and reach a 'soft' ball stage (between 242 & 248 F, or when a drop of the hot mixture dropped into cold water forms a soft malleable 'ball'). Immediately add this hot mixture into the floured nut mixture and stir vigorously to evenly mix (the mix will harden very quickly so just make sure to be quicker!).
Transfer the mixture into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface down. Bake at 300 F for about 30-40 minutes. The 'cake' will be quite wobbly when removed, but will harden as it cools. Allow to cool on a rack. Dust with icing sugar prior to cutting into wedges.
Here's wishing everyone a very Blessed & Merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel!