Though I am not usually a fan of fruitcakes, my visit home for the holidays introduced me to this version. This recipe takes more attention to detail than most of my recipes, but I assure you that the results are worth it!
This traditional Italian fruitcake, or Pampepato, combines rich chocolate and spicy black pepper and transforms a detested holiday dish into something delicious and rich with history.
The Splendid Table says that “Pampepato was first cloaked in chocolate in the late 19th century. The crisp coating not only singles out Pampepato from the Christmas cakes of Emilia and Romagna, but also seals the cake, keeping it moist through the entire holiday season.”
– 1 1/2 c. cake flour
– 1 1/2 c. all-purpose, unbleached flour
– 1/4 tsp. baking powder
– 1/2 tsp. baking soda
– 6 tbsp. candied citron, finely diced
– 3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. candied orange rind, finely diced
– 2 small dried figs, finely minced
– 1 3/4 c. almonds, coarsely chopped
– 1 c. plus 3 tbsp. water
– 1 1/2 c. sugar
– 1/4 c. ground sweet chocolate
– 1 c. cocoa
– Generous 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
– Generous pinch of freshly ground pepper
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
Cook Time: 2 hours, 300°F oven
Yields: 2 cakes
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter and flour a cookie sheet.
2. In a large, shallow bowl, thoroughly mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, candied fruits, figs, and nuts.
3. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, blend water, sugar, ground chocolate, and cocoa to a cream-like consistency. Do NOT let it boil. Cool about 15 minutes and stir in the spices.
4. Make a well in the dry ingredients, filling it with the chocolate mixture.
5. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine ingredients, careful not to over mix. It will be a very sticky dough.
6. Use a rubber spatula to make two round mounds of the dough on the cookie sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Each should be no more than 6-7 inches in diameter. Smooth the mounds.
7. Bake cakes for 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on the sheet. After completely cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to ripen for at least 12 hours and no more than 4 days.
8. Lay out a sheet of paper towels under a cake rack. Set the cakes upside down on a rack, and spread melted bittersweet chocolate over the bottom of each, covering completely. Allow to harden, flip cakes, and repeat on the top. Cakes should be completely encased in chocolate.
1. Serve with a sweet wine and cover with a chocolate-cherry sauce.
2. Make in advance! Slice thinly!
Recipe via The Splendid Table.