Typical dessert of the Prenestini Mountains, “Panpepato”, whose name refers to the conspicuous use of pepper for spicing it, has very old origins. The story tells that, at the time of the Colonna princes first and the Barberinis later, subjects offered this preparation based on flour, honey, candied fruit, raisins and dried fruit (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and pine nuts) as a gift to the lords of Palestrina. In the subsequent years, it became a tradition to make this dessert throughout the Prenestina area, especially during the Christmas holidays when it was customary for the oldest of the diners to slice the cake while the youngest took care of serving it to guests, always providing to keep aside a few slices for the beggars who knocked on the door. The expression “Si lassato lo muzzico dello palestrinese!” (literally “You left the morsel of the inhabitant of Palestrina!”) to indicate the remains of food left on the plate, in memory of an era and a distant history. The pappery bread is still made today by local ovens and by some families who keep the traditional recipe. The preparation involves mixing the raw materials (dried fruit, sultanas, candied fruit, cocoa or chocolate, pepper) with the honey melted in a bain-marie, then forming round loaves to leave for solidification overnight on a covered shelf. In the next stage, the traditional shape of zuccotti with a diameter of 10-20 cm and a height of 5-8 cm are obtained and baked for about an hour.
The distinctive dome-shaped Panpepato Prenestino has a brown colour and an irregular surface due to the dried fruit it contains. Its intense aroma is of nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and pine nuts), honey, cocoa and raisins, combined with slight hints of roasting. The taste is harmoniously sweet. Good crunchiness and aromatic persistence.