uestion: I would like to make some slightly exotic, edible and quaffable Christmas gifts for my friends. Any suggestions? t’s not too late to make some delicious and different Christmas gifts that will last into the New Year – if they’re not devoured before!
A European Christmas tradition is to give gifts of special cakes and confectionery that can be brought out when guests visit. They tend to be ones that keep well, rather than perishable cakes. Think pfeffernusse, the German version of our gingernuts (‘‘peppernuts’’), or biscotti or cantuccini, the Italian versions – great dunked in tea or, even better, in some sweet wine.
Italy has a range of Christmas sweets from different provinces. Panforte is one that hails from Siena, although the best I have had was in Massa Marittima, a tiny town in southern Tuscany. Theirs was a darker variety than the more famous Siena version.
Panforte literally means ‘‘strong bread’’, but it is a confectionery rather than a bread or cake, as only a little flour is added to help bind the fruit and nuts into a chewy, dense slice.
Makes 1 cake (about 40 pieces) Preparation: 10 minutes Cooking: 35 minutes Panforte nero, which has chocolate and pepper in it, makes a great Christmas gift as it lasts well and a little goes a long way. The use of sweet rice paper to prevent it sticking is very traditional and also very pretty.