The Bussolà forte is a traditional Christmas dessert from Murano, the famous glass-blowing island of Venice. Its recipe for centuries was a secret of the Muranese families and only in recent years have the local bakeries begun selling this dense, aromatic, calorific treat.
(Note that the Muranese like to prepare this treat a couple of days in advance to allow the cake achieve its ideal consistency.)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Begin by mixing the eggs and sugar, then add the cocoa, spices, salt, flour, oil, wine and rum. Next, add the molasses last, being sure to mix vigorously as the dough is very dense. (In the event that the dough becomes to soft, add a little flour. Or, if it becomes too dry, just add a small amount of molasses and wine.) Cut the chocolate into small pieces and add to the mixture along with almost all the pine nuts, almonds and the dried fruit. Form the dough into the shape of a ring.
Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. (If you use a traditional gas oven, you may want to put a pan full of water in the oven to prevent the dough from drying out.) Remove from oven and decorate with the remaining nuts and fruit. Let it cool and ideally store it for a couple of days before happily consuming every last rich crumb. (Or if you can only manage to devour a portion, the bussolà forte can be kept safely for a couple of weeks though it will begin to dry out).
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