Panforte is a thick and dense cake of medieval origin. At first it was made by the monks in the monasteries and given as a symbolic gift in special occasions, then passed into the hands of the apothecaries: sugar, almonds, candied fruit and spices were ingredients as precious as gold, and like gold they were kept from these figures that were a cross between an alchemist and a pharmacist, in huge glass jars on dark wooden shelves.
The spices are what make it unique, a Tuscan gingerbread. Its pungent and honeyed smell is for me the true scent of Christmas, along with that of almonds and orange peel of ricciarelli.
Preheat oven to 180°C and toast the almonds in the oven for a few minutes.
In a large bowl add the toasted almonds, the flour, the finely chopped orange and citron candied peel and the spices. Stir to mix.
Line with parchment paper wafer a 18 cm round cake tin (preferably a spring-form tin, it will be much easier to remove the panforte once baked).
Melt in a small saucepan over low heat the honey and the icing sugar with 3 tablespoons of water. When they are completely melted and become a thick golden syrup, remove the pan from the heat.
Pour the syrup into the bowl with all the other ingredients and stir with a spoon to mix everything: it will be a very hard dough.
Scoop the dough into the cake tin lined with wafer and smooth the surface with a spoon.
Dust the surface with icing sugar and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, then remove the panforte from the oven, let cool slightly and then remove from the baking tin.
If you wait until completely cold the caramelized sugar will stick to the tin and give you hard times - as it happened to me. If it happens, slightly warm the tin and the panforte will come out with no problems. Once the panforte is cold, dust generously with icing sugar.