The Roman Sweet Tooth | Apicius’ Hypotrimma with Defrutum Glazed Spelt Biscuits Recipe

Preparation Time: 2 Hours  |  Cook Time: 30 Minutes 



  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • ½ tsp of ajwain (Bishop’s weed), celery seed, or a handful of fresh lovage leaf
  • 1 tsp of dried mint
  • ½ cup of pine nuts
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • ½ cup of pitted dates
  • 3 cups of unsalted fresh or aged, soft mild cheese (eg. cow’s ricotta, sheep cheese, or goat cheese)
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp of garum/liquamen or Thai/Vietnamese fish sauce (Red Boat or Flor di Garum, for example)
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of defrutum or grape molasses


Spelt Biscuits

  • 4 cups coarse-ground spelt flour
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1+1/2 cup of honey
  • 1+1/2 cup of ricotta
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 clam-shaped cookie cutter or any other decorative cutter of your liking


  1. Begin preparing the spelt biscuits as they’ll take a bit longer to prepare and bake and the hypotrimma will go much faster. Preheat your oven to  175°C.
  2. Mix your biscuit dough by hand or in a mixer.
  3. Dust a large cutting board with flour. Roll the spelt biscuit dough out, using a rolling pin, to as thin as you can. You are trying to achieve something to the effect of a Roman digestive biscuit. We want it to be as thin as a digestive biscuit so it’s soft but also a bit crisp once they bake. If your pin sticks to the dough, flour the surface of the dough with more flour.
  4. Using your cutter, cut out as many biscuit shapes as you can and place them onto a baking sheet. Hint: If your cutter sticks to the dough and you can’t get the biscuit out of the cutter…. use more flour on the dough surface!
  5. Once you cut all of the dough into the cutter shape, take a basting brush and brush the top of the biscuits with defrutum or grape molasses. If the cutter you’re using is a ridged cutter, like mine is, brush against the ridges as it creates more of a dramatic shadow effect that makes the biscuit rather beautiful.
  6. Bake these little beauties for 30 minutes. Time to make the hypotrimma!
  7. If you’re going to use a mortar, keep a large mixing bowl on the side to move processed ingredients into once they’re fully pulverised. If you’re using a food processor, dice up all of the ingredients together but the cheese to begin with. Add the cheese in last either as soft cheese, broken into bits, or smashed. If you’re using a mortar, pulverise each dry ingredient individually using your pestle and then transfer it into the large mixing bowl to be mixed together once all of the ingredients have been mulched. Add the cheese in last either as soft cheese, broken into bits, or smashed. Mix it evenly.
  8. Serve the hypotrimma in a serving bowl by piping it into the bowl (if it’s too wet) or by shaping it into a ball (use a bit of olive oil on your hands) if you’ve chosen to use a drier aged cheese and the mix is of a firmer consistency. Garnish the hypotrimma by sprinkling some dried mint on top.
  9. Once the biscuits are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool. You can place the biscuits around the hypotrimma in the serving bowl, or use them as a garnish on the hypotrimma and serve the surplus biscuits on the side. The choice is yours! There’s so much room for presentation creativity here, coqui! Let’s do Apicius proud!