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If it's Greek food you're craving, columnist, critic, author and restaurant consultant Diane Kochilas should be among the first names that come to mind. She recently enlightened us on the use of petimezi, an ancient sweetener made from fermented grape molasses and loaned us her recipe for petimezopita from one of the many cookbooks she's written.

If it’s Greek food you’re craving, columnist, critic, author and restaurant consultant Diane Kochilas should be among the first names that come to mind. She recently enlightened us on the use of petimezi, an ancient sweetener made from fermented grape molasses and loaned us her recipe for petimezopita from one of the many, many cookbooks she’s written.

It’s funny how recipes travel. Petimezopita is a cake I’ve been making for years, waiting anxiously every September for a supply of petimezi (grape molasses) from friends on Ikaria who make wine and go to the trouble to take the must, clarify it and boil it down to syrup. One afternoon while I was visiting my friend Eleni, whose husband makes wine on a large and gorgeous estate in Pygi in the center of the island, she served us chocolate petimezopita cupcakes, of all things, and said, “You know, I used your recipe!” So, here is my recipe, reworked with Eleni’s twist, to make something modern out of something utterly traditional and old-world.

The petimezi has a subtle sweetness, nowhere near as cloying as either honey or sugar. The result is a dense, dark cake that is moist and faintly reminiscent of the smell of grapes as they ferment.

Reprinted with permission from Ikaria