Directions

  1. Position rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Brush two 8-inch cake pans with melted butter. Line pans with parchment paper. Brush parchment generously with melted butter. Reserve remaining butter.

  2. Place hazelnuts on a small, rimmed baking sheet. Place almonds on another small, rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven until nuts are brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes for almonds and 14 minutes for hazelnuts. Cool.

  3. Gather hazelnuts in a dish towel and rub them together to remove husks. Transfer almonds and hazelnuts to large bowl. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

  4. Add figs, apricots and mixed dried fruits, and orange and lemon peels to nuts in the large bowl. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, coriander and cloves. Add to the fruit and nuts.

  5. Combine sugar, honey and remaining melted butter in a heavybottomed medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and sugar mostly dissolved, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil. Continue cooking until candy thermometer registers 248 degrees (firm ball stage.) Immediately pour over the nut mixture. Stir quickly to combine thoroughly.

  6. Divide batter between the two prepared pans. Using back of a buttered spoon, spread evenly. Bake until tops and edges begin to brown and tops feel dry about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool slightly on wire rack. Run a paring knife around edges of the pan to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto work surface, peel off parchment. Cool cakes completely.

  7. Arrange cakes top side up on 8-inch cardboard rounds. Spread half of the melted chocolate over each. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. 

  8. Dust tops of cakes with cocoa powder. Wrap lightly in plastic wrap. Panforte can be prepared up to 1 month ahead. Store at cool room temperature. Cut into small wedges for serving or to package individually as gifts. 

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Side view of panforte, a dense chocolate cake with nuts visible on the side.