Christmas time has always been synonymous with desserts. The pampepato (or panpepato) is certainly one of the most appreciated and the most popular Umbrian sweets during Christmas holidays.
The origins of the dessert are actually quite controversial, to such an extent that as many as 3 Italian regions contend the name of “traditional product”: Umbria, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. However, the Umbrian preparation methodology remains unique and is clearly different from all the others.
The pampepato is based on ingredients typical of the autumn season: dried fruit, raisins, candied fruit, honey or sugar and spices depending on the variations, as it is a popular dessert and every family is used to revisit a revisited version of the traditional recipe.
The origins of the Pampepato
Going back to the 1800s, pampepato was already considered a party dessert as it was made with chocolate and spices, which at the time were difficult to find and consequently very expensive products.
In all probability, however, the dessert has a much older life and dates back to the sixteenth century. It is supposed that the umbrian preparation we know today is the direct derivative of another sweet: the so-called “spicy pan“, a very similar sweet brought in the area by the ancient caravans coming from the East around the middle of the sixteenth century. The product was then mixed with the local gastronomic tradition and ingredients such as walnuts, citrus fruits and cooked must were added. Today difficult to find, the “mosto cotto” in Terni is bottled only for the preparation of the dessert.
The preparation of the pampepato ternano is therefore part of the traditional folk cuisine, also taking on a deep folk character to the point of becoming a real party in the party. According to tradition, the dessert is rigorously prepared starting from December 8 and for a period that reaches until 14 February, Valentine’s Day, the local patron. It is also a typical custom to keep at least one portion until Easter (or even of the Assumption on August 15th).
The ingredients of pampepato ternano
As we have seen, the origins of the dessert are rather confusing and not very certain. As is often the case when it comes to ancient recipes handed down from generation to generation, there is no univocal recipe. The most commonly used ingredients are nuts, red wine, almonds, hazelnuts, raisins, honey, dark chocolate, cinnamon, flour, nutmeg and of course, pepper. However, over the years there have been several variations that often involve replacing these ingredients with others.
What matters, however, is to get your hands dirty: the ingredients are in fact mixed and mixed manually, to shape the individual cakes.