Last Friday I ate a wonderful lunch at Vinnies to celebrate NZ National Honey Week. It was great to meet other people passionate about honey, and also my fellow blogger and friend Mairi from Toast (btw, Mairi just posted the November round up for Sweet New Zealand, click here to look at all the wonderful sweet recipes!).
I haven't been to Vinnies for 10 years (!!) and it was great to chef and owner Geoff Scott, together with his head chef Andrew Hanson they created a wonderful menu for the day, and there were some spectacular vegetarian dishes for me too (the only vegetarian there).
National Honey Week has ended, but I still like to offer another dish with honey, and since it is now December I like to propose a traditional Italian cake that I often make for Christmas.
This recipes has been lightly adapted form my book Sweet As... (New Holland Publishers).
I love panforte for Christmas, but here in NZ is ever so expensive, and I prefer the home made version anyway, as it is full of nuts and fruit. It took me a while to develop this recipe, I tried with different spices in different doses until I found the one which worked better for me (always use fresh spices though, otherwise the taste will not be the same), and instead of using candied melon most of the time I use candied papaya, which is easier to find in New Zealand. This time I found both, mixed together, so I was very happy. Also, this time I had some rice paper, usually I do without.
For the honey I like to use a creamy type like clover or rata for this recipe.
For the vanilla sugars (white and icing) I just keep them in a jar with a stick of vanilla.
2 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp vanilla flavoured white sugar
2 tbsp vanilla icing sugar, plus more for dusting
1-2 tbsp water, if required
150g (5 and 1/2 oz) citrus peel
200g (7 oz)candied melon and or papaya
150g (5 and 1/2 oz)almonds (or a combination of almonds and hazelnuts - like I did this time)
100g (3 and 1/2 oz) plain flour
1 tsp powdered coriander
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/4 (one quarter) tsp powdered nutmeg
Partly fill a small saucepan with hot water and set over a medium heat. In a bowl put the honey, vanilla sugar and icing sugar with 1-2 tablespoons water, depending on the thickness of the honey. Set the bowl over the pan of simmering water and stir the honey until runny. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the citrus peel, papaya, almonds and all the other dry ingredients. Line the base and sides of a 20cm (8 inch) round baking tin non-stick baking paper, add one sheet of rice paper and fill the tin with the mixture, cover with another sheet of rice paper then one sheet of baking paper, and gently press down the cake evenly in the tin. Bake in a oven preheated to 160°C (325°F) for 25 minutes, then remove the top sheet of baking paper and bake for further 20 minutes. Remove from the oven but leave in the baking tin and cover with a thick layer of vanilla icing sugar. Serve cold in small slices as it is quite filling.