Many summers ago, my husband and I had taken an apartment in Sori, a small town on the Italian Riviera. During our explorations of the area we stopped in a nearby hamlet named Pieve Ligure, where, at the local pastry shop, we bought a dessert to take home. We were told it was adapted from a sweet that was made in the town as far back as the Renaissance. I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy, nor do I care, but what is certain is that it was luscious. Recently, as I was cleaning out some old Italian food magazines, I came across the recipe for a dessert called dolce pievano, and as I read it I recognized it as the one I had picked up more than 20 years ago in Pieve Ligure.
This is just the kind of dessert-making I like, calling for a minimum investment of labor and skill, and paying off with a large return in taste. Whatever baking was involved was done by the makers of the ladyfingers you buy in the store. The other steps consist of assembling the components and then waiting for their flavors to come together overnight in the refrigerator.
The dome-shaped look of dolce pievano comes from the mold in which you put the ingredients. Any round-bottomed metal, plastic, or ceramic bowl of the approximate dimensions indicated will do the job. The original implement, called polsonetto in Italian, would have been of unlined copper, with a stubby handle, and used mainly for cooking custards.