From Liz in midtown Newport News: Italian fruit and nut gems

Daily Press

From the Land O Lakes butter web site:ITALIAN NUT GEMS These chewy, nutty confections are reminiscent of an Italian classic fruit-nut cake called "panforte", which originated in Siena, Italy.

Preparation time: 45 min Baking time: 5 min Yield: 48

Ingredients1 1/2 cups slivered almonds2/3 cup chopped hazelnuts10 (4 3/4x2 1/2-inch) graham cracker squares, broken into pieces2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*1/2 cup sugar1/2 cup honey6 tablespoons butter (don't substitute margarine)2 tablespoons bourbon, rum brandy or orange liquer, if desired3/4 cup chopped dried apricots1/2 cup chopped sweetened dried cranberries1/2 cup powdered sugar

DirectionsHeat oven to 350°F. Place almonds and hazelnuts into ungreased jelly-roll pan or baking sheet with sides. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool 15 minutes.

Place toasted nuts into food processor bowl fitted with metal blade. Add graham cracker pieces and pumpkin pie spice. Cover; pulse several times, until mixture is fine and crumbly with just a few small pieces of nuts remaining. Pour into large bowl.

Combine sugar, honey and butter in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture just comes to a boil (6 to 7 minutes). Stir in bourbon, if desired. Pour over nut mixture in bowl; stir in apricots and cranberries until well mixed. Press mixture down into bowl; let stand 10 minutes.

Place powdered sugar in small bowl. With dampened fingers, shape nut mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar until well coated.

Place nut gems into candy paper cups, if desired. Store in container with tight-fitting lid.

*Substitute 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and cloves.

Recipe TipThe nut mixture is crumbly at first. Pressing it into the bowl to compress the ingredients makes it easier to form into balls.

Nutrition Facts (1 candy): Calories: 70, Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 15mg, Carbohydrates: 7g, Dietary Fiber: 1g, Protein: 1g

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