Pampepato Ferrarese IGP is one of the oldest traditional dessert recipes in Italy and stems from the medieval and renaissance tradition of preparing enriched and spicy breads during the holiday season.
As for its name, both Pampepato (from pepper) and Pampapato (from Pope) are correct
Ferrara was built near the River Po, under the rule of the Este family in the fifteenth century. During the Renaissance Ferrara became a cultural center of great importance and fame. During this period his court hosted famous artists like Biagio Rossetti, Piero della Francesca and Andrea Mantegna, and competed for the title of ideal city. Retaining much of its Renaissance urban plan the city has received the UNESCO recognition, which has spread to the nearby Po Delta territory as well as to the ancient Este residences, The Delights, which represent an excellent example of Renaissance culture in the natural landscape of italian countryside.
Ferrara during the Renaissance gave birth to Pampapato (also called Pampepato), an italian traditional dessert recipe who recently won IGP entering (on 28th December 2015) the list of DOP and IGP products protected from Brussels.
The Pampapato stems from the medieval and renaissance tradition of preparing enriched and spicy breads during the holiday season. Its uniqueness and the local production limited to the province of Ferrara area have been recognized during time with numerous writings that refer to its recipe.
The “Pampapato” (or “Pampepato”), whose origins date back to the time of the Este family, was considered a rich sweet worthy of a pope, so to be offered as a gift to high prelates and nobility. Perhaps not coincidentally Pampapato shape resembles the shape of a cardinal hat.
From its shape and from the use of spices as ingredients, seems to have originated the etymology of the sweet and the coexistence of the two denominations ( “pope” in italian is “papa” from which “pampapato” while “ in italian “ pepe” is a spice from which “pampepato”)
Like many italian old dessert recipes, the traditional Pampapato is a bakery product obtained from the processing of flour, candied fruit, dried fruit, sugar, cocoa, spices and the surface is covered with extra dark chocolate. Its fragrance of chocolate attracts at first glance then gradually you can taste spices, especially nutmeg and cinnamon, and candied and dried fruit. Also tasting it the flavor is initially of dark chocolate, from which it is coated, to leave then space to the other ingredients.
The recent tradition indicates as ingredients to produce the pampapato the same used at the time of the Este, and precisely: flour, candied orange peel, almonds and toasted hazelnuts, cocoa, sugar and honey.
The ingredients are mixed together, then they are compacted in presses that give the characteristic shape and the skullcap is cooked.
It is put to rest for a few days and finally glazed with chocolate before packaging.
The production area is the entire territory of the Province of Ferrara.
About the year and the actual place of production, there are differences, some report it as the birth place of Pontelagoscuro the outskirts of Ferrara, others indicate as producing first the cloistered nuns of the Convent of Corpus Christi of Ferrara.
According to this argument in the ‘600 nuns of the Monastery of Corpus Christi of Ferrara, drawing inspiration from an ancient recipe of the great Renaissance chef Christopher from Messisbugo, create a cake to be sent to the great personalities of.
Cocoa, just arrived in Europe in the hands of Cortes, was a luxury item for the few and is added like a jewel, very precious dust. A form of skullcap is enriched with dried fruit, almonds or hazelnuts, from tasty candy, and is flavored with fragrant spices. So this rich dessert becomes the Pan Pope. And ‘the sweet of Christmas, the holidays, and it’s sweet that best represents the wealth and sophistication of Ferrara. And ‘sweet that with its intense flavor and its lovely scent recalls the history and tradition of a territory by the many stories and flavors.
Even the presence of spices among the ingredients suggests a birth tied to ecclesiastical circles. Spices were precious and scarce availability, typically using them primarily as a medicine was limited to monks and nuns in the convents.
According to some texts the original recipe, preserved by the Jesuits, was lost and later the name of the product has been specially modified to “pampepato” to eliminate any ecclesiastical reference when cocoa was defined aphrodisiac. What is certain is that the dessert is known and is much appreciated by the noble tables of the Este court, and over the years became one of the city’s typical sweets.
E ‘in the early’ 900 that is perfected its production: a pastry chef originally from Milan, who settled in Ferrara creates the chocolate coating, which today is traditional, whereas previously it was held just colored sugar. In the following years the dessert is also known in the rest of the nation and beyond the Italian borders
As happens for many italian traditional dessert recipes, pampepato recipe can be found in the tradition of more than one italian region. Preparations by recipe and shape similar to Pampapato Ferrarese PGI are also found in traditional recipes of sweets of other Italian regions and especially in Umbria , and particularly in Terni , and in Lazio. There are similarities with the pampapato in the preparation and ingredients also with the traditional Panforte di Siena.

Thanks to Prodotti tipici Italiani & Italian Traditional Food