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Recipe: California farmers market panforte

Total time: 3 hours, plus 1 hour cooling time and overnight soaking for the panforte; 2 1/2 hours plus 3 hours drying time for the candied peel.

Servings: 18

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Note: From Carol Penn-Romine.

Candied citrus peel

3 oranges

3 lemons

2 cups sugar, divided

1. Peel the oranges and lemons in strips with a vegetable peeler. Scrape away any white membrane from the inside of the peel with the back edge of a paring knife. Cut the peel lengthwise into strips about one-fourth inch wide.

2. Place the peel in a saucepan with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Drain. Repeat these steps but simmer gently so the peel does not disintegrate.

3. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar and three-fourths cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Add the peel. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Drain the peel in a colander.

4. Place the remaining half-cup of sugar in a shallow bowl and dredge each piece of peel in the sugar, then spread on waxed paper to dry, approximately three hours. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for no longer than one week.

Panforte

2 cups candied citrus peel

1/2cup Grand Marnier

1 cup shelled pistachios

1 cup shelled almonds (not blanched)

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3 cups loosely packed, chopped mixed dates, dried calimyrna figs and dried apricots

1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, crushed using a mortar and pestle

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1/2 tablespoon butter for coating pan

1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for dusting

3/4 cup sage honey

1. Soak the candied citrus peel in the Grand Marnier overnight, stirring occasionally when possible.

2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the pistachios for about 12 minutes and the almonds for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and crunchy. Cool, then chop. (If chopping in a food processor, chop the pistachios and almonds separately, then mix.) Reduce the oven heat to 300 degrees.

3. Drain and coarsely chop the soaked peel and mix it with the nuts and dried fruit. Sprinkle the nut and fruit mixture with the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves and stir to mix. Sift in the flour and mix.

4. Butter the sides of a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour. Set aside.

5. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar and the honey in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over very low heat, stirring continuously to prevent scorching. When the sugar-honey mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (about 245 degrees on a candy thermometer), remove the pot from the stove and stir in the fruit and nut mixture, coating well.

6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth out the top using a small offset knife dipped in water.

7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, taking care that the panforte does not brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan. Run a knife around the edge of the springform pan, then remove the ring from the bottom. Lift the panforte off the bottom of the pan. Dust the top with the remaining sugar. The panforte will keep indefinitely, stored in an airtight container.

Each serving: 394 calories; 5 grams protein; 78 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 8 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 mg. cholesterol; 4 mg. sodium.

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