Roman Sweets

Sweets, desserts, puddings

While this is not the season for peaches, I thought I’d start the year off with some thing sweet from this summer.  I look forward to doing this recipe again and again with next years sweet bounty!

Patina de Persicis

Peaches in Oil with Cumin Sauce


…peel some firm peaches, cut into pieces and cook.  Place in a patina pan and drizzle with oil.  Serve with cumin sauce.

For the cumin sauce:

Another cumin sauce: pepper, lovage, dried mint, a large amount of cumin, honey, vinegar, liquamen.

(Faas, pp. 242)


5 peaches

4 TBS olive oil


1 tsp pepper     1 Tbs mint        2 Tbs cumin

½ C honey       1 tsp vinegar     ½ tsp fish sauce.


For the peaches,

I skinned them,

cut them in half

and de-stoned them.

I placed them in a dutch oven with good olive oil

and cooked just till soft.

Gather all the ingredients together for the sauce.

While the peaches were baking, I set the sauce ingredients into a pot and mixed.

The pot was allowed to simmer till the sauce was reduced by half.

A peach was soaked in sauce and consumed.

It tasted like a spicy peach cobbler!  Very yummy.

Sweet Patinae



An inverted patina: Roast pine nuts and chopped walnuts and grind with honey, pepper, and garum; milk and eggs and a bit of oil

(Giacosa, pg 161)

Turnover as a sweet.  Toast pine-kernels and broken and clean nuts, and pound with honey, pepper, liquamen, milk, eggs a little wine and oil  (cook in a shallow pan) and turn out on to a round serving-dish.

(Flower, pp. 103)

Nut custard turn-over (patina versatilis vice dulcis)

Pignolia nuts, chopped or broken nuts are cleaned and roasted and crushed with honey.  Mix in pepper, broth, milk, eggs, , a little honey and oil.  (Thicken slowly on fire with out boiling, fill in moulds, take care that the nuts do not sink to the bottom, bake in hot water bath when cold unmould.)

(Apicus, pp. 103/#143)



1 cup pine nuts 1 cup walnuts               1 cup almonds

5 Tbs honey                 ½ tsp ground pepper    1 tsp garum

3 eggs                          1 cup half and half         1 Tbs oil

½ cup wine

Giacosa, pg. 161.



First I gathered the ingredients together.

The nuts were probably roasted either on a clay sheet in an oven or on top of an oven in a frying pan.  (Flower/Giacosa) I roasted these nuts in the oven on a cookies sheet.

Here are the roasted walnuts and unskinned roasted hazelnuts.

And the roasted pine nuts.  Pine nuts roast a lot faster then walnuts or hazelnuts, so keep an close aye on them!  Pine nuts are waaaay to expensive and tasty to waste burning.

Here the roasted nuts are all gathered in individual bowls.

When they were done, I ground them in a small electric grinder,

though I am sure that if labor and time were not an issue, kitchen slaves could have ground the nuts into as fine a paste. Since I had no kitchen slaves, I settled for an automatic grinding this time.  I have found that grinding by hand (or at least my hand) that using a mortar and pestal that the nuts do not come out fine.  I believe this is due to user error and not the grinding potential of the mortar and pestle.

Once the nuts were roughly ground I mixed them with the honey, pepper, and red wine.

The eggs were combined with the half and half and oil.  Once the egg mixture was well blended, I combined this with the nut and spice mixture.  This mixture was poured into a casserole and bake for around 20 minutes at 350.

I added a sweet red wine on hand, not having a white wine available.  The commercially available white wines would have been a good addition; however I find I do not like the chemical tastes and with several gallons of home made meads etc on hand I decided to deplete my stock of home made non chemical wines.

The half and half used is from a cow.  There was an option to use goat milk which would have been just as likely as milk from a cow to have been used, possibly more so.  The option to use regular milk, I do not believe would have been as good a choice as the milk would not have had full body of cream as straight from the animal milk would have.  The addition of half and half gives this dish a very rich and creamy taste. Peppercorns were ground in a mortar and pestle.  The eggs used were organic farm raised, closer to period; however regular store bought eggs would have worked with the same results.

The finished desert.  Very tasty and very firm!  This is not nearly as soupy as the pear patinae (probably due to the fruit being softer and gushier)  sort of a firm crunchy oatmeal but much tastier!


You have those days where you need a little sweet or a bit of salty sweetness?  This my friends is the Roman equivalent of rocking your socks with this salty (or unsalted) goodness!

Stuffed Dates

Apicius 296


A home made sweet: remove the pits from palmyra fruits or dates, and stuff them with walnuts or pine nuts or ground pepper.  Roll them in salt, fry in cooked honey and serve. (Herklotz, pp. 189)


Fresh figs and/or dates  Walnuts halves  Pine nuts           Tsp salt

4 Tbs honey (or enough to coat depending on size of cooking batch)


I decided to try half of the cooked dates and figs with walnuts and the other half with pine nuts.

figs dates salt

Next step was to take off the tops of the figs and pit the dates.

ready for stuffing

Then I wanted to try half of each type of stuffed fruit with salt and the other half with out salt.  i.e. I had 4 dates in total, 2 dates stuffed with walnuts and 2 stuffed with pine nuts, of these I rolled two in salt, one stuffed with walnuts and one stuffed with pine nuts.


After stuffing several pieces of the fruit were rolled in salt.

rolled in salt

I heated up the 4Tbs of honey until thoroughly warmed and slightly boiling (or frying).  I then placed each stuffed piece of fruit in the honey.

frying in honey

I would suggest that the unsalted pieces be cooked first then the salted.  Once each piece was thoroughly coated I placed on a plate.  The salt did not stay very well through the cooking process, then again I only placed a light coating of salt on the fruit.  I might suggest sprinkling salt afterwards if the fruit appears to not have any or very little salt remaining.

ready to eat

I have to admit that the salted and unsalted date with walnut was my favorite.  The figs with walnuts were excellent as well though next time I would keep them in the honey a bit longer as the center was still a bit cool.  The pine nut stuffed fruit was a bit of a disappointment though it might have been because I did not stuff enough into the interior.

This is a quick simple very tasty dessert with or with out salt.

Patina de Piris

Pear Pudding

The original recipe is a bit sparse on direction.   This is one of those recipes where you really need to know what to do in the kitchen…but once you know what you are doing…the sky is the limit on how to blend these ingredients together for a most wonderful tasty treat!


A pear patina: grind boiled and cored pears with pepper, cumin, honey, passum, garum, and a bit of oil.

Flower, pg. 109./Herklotz, pg. 172-173

*Passum: a sweet raison wine.  (If Passum is not available either to buy or made, use a sweet mead or rose hip wine.  The main feature to remember is that you want a sweet dessert wine to compliment the pear taste.)


5 pears   (Peeled and poached)             1/3 – 1/2 cup of  honey

1 tsp  ea of ground pepper, cumin and fish sauce

1 C.  sweet wine          2 eggs            1  C.  cream

1tsp olive oil

My Redaction:

When I first read this recipe, translated the boiled pears as to be poached.  Roman’s loved their cooking far to much to just “boil” in water if wine was to be had on hand.   So with that in mind, I took 5 Bartlet pears (very firm) peeled, cored then poached in mead.   Poached pears

Now these pears were allowed to steep for about 5 hours in the mead for yummy maximum goodness (and I was crazy busy after I had finished poaching them.  So I turned of the stove and let them steep…a loooong time.)

After the pears were removed from their decedent mead bath (this is a Roman dish…and what is Rome with out a decedent bath some where?!),  I mashed the pears into a rough consistency and added the spices, honey and wine.

Now you may be going at this point…Fish Sauce!!! in a dessert!!! Ewwww.  Now now…don’t judge.  Try this once WITH the sauce.  It really makes the dish.  Like all dishes that have fish sauce, a little will do wonders…don’t go overboard or yes the dish will taste of fish.  As the saying goes, “A dab will do you!”.

precooked mixture

Now this is the mashed pears with all of the spices, honey and wine.   The pudding consistency will depend on how much or how little wine is used and eggs are added.  I like my pear pudding a bit on the wet side.  When I reach for a ladle of this sweetness, I have extra juice.    Just the perfect amount to add short bread cookies to, for sopping up the excess.   If you prefer a dryer pudding (one that is firm and not dripping with extra wine sweet spiciness, cut the wine by half and add an extra egg.

Once a consistency is decided upon, pour the pudding into your pottery dish (or pudding dish) and cook till golden on top.

cooked mixture

I had a little extra browning on the edges here while waiting for the center to firm up a bit.  Keep an eye on the pudding through out the cooking so that over cooking (or even burning) does not occur.

Now I eat this with candle light and a spoon in a hot tub.  Pfft…ok I would if I had the hot tub and the time to light the candles!  This dish is a sweet rich  confection that is just amazing.   I might suggest serving shortbread cookies on the side as a way to cut the rich sweetness of this, but then again everything goes with shortbread cookies and pear pudding.