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Panpepato or Pepper Bread

Though the origins of Panpepato aren’t certain one theory is that Sister Berta adapted a Panforte recipe when Siena was under siege and instead of using fresh fruit, she used more readily available dried fruits. Panpepato is rumored to have strong aphrodisiac qualities and has the ability to stop couples from arguing, two very good reasons to give it a try this holiday season. The third, and perhaps most compelling reason, is that the black pepper, honey, dried fruit, and nuts combine for a chewy, spicy and delicious holiday treat.

Panpepato ( Makes 5 small loaves)

1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup candied orange peel, chopped
2 tablespoons brewed espresso
6 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons water
1/2  cup red currant jelly, divided
Large pinch of nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
Large pinch black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

In a large bowl, combine the nuts, raisins, chocolate, orange peel, and espresso.
Melt the honey and combine with 3 tablespoons water.  Add it to the nut mixture.
Add 1/4 cup red currant jelly and mix well.
Add the nutmeg, zest, salt and pepper.
Reserve 3 tablespoons of flour and add the rest a little at a time.
Mix in only enough to get the mixture to hold together.
Divide into 5 equal balls and place on a lightly-floured surface.
Roll each piece into a round, slightly flattened loaf.
Use the remaining flour to help shape loaves.
Place loaves on a greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350-degrees F. for 15 minutes or until firm.
Brush the tops with the remaining currant jelly and bake 5 more minutes.
Allow to cool 15 minutes and dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Recipe from Mangia Bene Pasta