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Fig & Orange Panforte with Cointreau Zabaglione and a cooking class

First cooking class with Peasepudding!

How the cooking classes came to be…….

A good friend of mine who cooks really well but says she doesn’t bake well, asked if I could help her make a Christmas cake this year (my Tropical Christmas Cake from a previous post) which was a great success and from that snowballed the idea of baking sessions each Saturday until Christmas, creating festive goodies that could be used as gifts or part of the many dinners or gathering that grow around the festive season. I knew I would be baking a lot pre Christmas and I thought it would be nice to be able to enjoy the experience with a friend too. But word got around and the sessions grew from one extra person to four additional people within a few days. My kitchen is quite compact so six would be the limit and everyone was keen to make the Panforte & Zabaglione we had already decided on.

It was a great way to spend Saturday morning and everyone went away happy bearing several mini Panforte each. I didn’t get any photos this week of the class with all the excitement of actually holding a class but we have classes booked now for the next 4 weeks so I will try and get some actions shots in future.

Below is the recipe for the Zabaglione and Panforte.


  • 300g roasted almonds
  • 350g figs, roughly chopped
  • zest of one orange
  • 100g flour (or ground almonds can be substituted for gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
  • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamon
  • ½  tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 100g honey
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Prepare a 28cm x 18cm baking tin by lining it with greaseproof paper and also greasing the paper.
  3. Roast almonds in oven till golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa, almonds and spices.
  5. In a pan over a low heat, melt the honey and sugar till dissolved and gently boil for 2 minutes.
  6. Add figs to the cooked honey and sugar and gently boil for a further 2 minutes.
  7. In a microwave or over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate pieces, being careful not to overcook them.
  8. Add honey and fig mixture, melted chocolate to the nuts and and flour mixture.
  9. Stir the mixture well with a wooden spoon (working quickly, it is easier to do this while the mixture is still hot.
  10. With wet hand, press down to spread the mixture and make a smooth, flat surface.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  12. Cool on a cake rack then cut into 3cm-wide pieces.
  13. Store in an airtight container. Panforte will keep for a few weeks stored this way.

I make my panforte into 7 individual round cakes by pressing the mixture into a round ring (Little fried egg rings or very large cookie cutters would work if you don’t have a professional mould). I then wrap them individually and give them as gifts.

Zabaglione – makes two


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp castor sugar
  • 1 tblsp cointreau


  1. Place the egg yolks and sugar into a metal or glass bowl and beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and foamy. Beat in the cointreau.
  2. Set the mixture over  a pan of simmering water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl and whisk constantly for about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Continue whisking until it forms a thick creamy foam that coats the back of the spoon. The eggs need to be cooked gently so the mixture stays smooth and doesn’t scramble!
  4. Serve immediately with sponge finger biscuits, panforte or biscotti.

Zabaglione may be served warm or cold. A cold one is beaten off the heat until cooled. Traditional zabaglione must be made just before serving. The warm froth can be served as a dessert by itself or as a sauce over cake, fruit, ice cream or pastry. They may also be used for sweet or savoury gratins.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Congratulations on the success of your classes!!!! :)) You take such lovely photos… how do you get the clean white background?

    November 23, 2009
    • peasepudding #

      Hi Asha, I set up a table in front of a window and cover it with a white table cloth. I make my own style ‘white box’ by having the light come through on the left, putting a piece of white card at the back and the right. The I position my camera at the front. The card reflects the light back from the window onto the subject. If it is really sunny I have to hang a thin white cloth over the window to prevent getting a blue tinge as we are close to the sea and it seems to reflect the colour. I usually set my shutter speed on 60-100 depending on light. I’ll take some photos of my set up this weekend with instruction and post it if you like?

      November 23, 2009
  2. Hilary #

    Hello, are those figs in the recipe dried figs? I’m guessing yes? Also many recipes seem to say you need a candy thermometer for panforte but I’m glad that yours doesn’t! I’m going to give it a go.

    November 24, 2009
    • peasepudding #

      sorry, yes they are dried figs but the ones I buy are still very juicy, not hard and dry like some you can buy. Traditionally a sugar thermometre is used but i don’t have one so I adjusted this recipe to suit timeframes. It is a soft but still chewy Panforte but not hard and brittle like some I have bought. The thing with this recipe, if you under cook the sugar it isn’t actually going to spoil the cake. Good luck baking it and let me know how you go.

      November 26, 2009
  3. What a great idea! I love the idea of spending a month baking with friends new and old. These look quite tasty as well!

    November 24, 2009
  4. Un bocado perfecto, sin duda tiene que ser una maravilla disfrutar de este plato.

    Te ha quedado precioso, al igual que las fotos, maravillosas.


    November 25, 2009
  5. What fun! I wish I could take part in your cooking classes! I am sure you are a wonderful teacher because you always produce such amazing results. I hope you all have a blast!

    November 25, 2009

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