The recipe for Chrysocolla is based on a vague comment of Athenaeus (The Deipnosophists 3:75), a Greek writer from the city of Naucratis in Egypt, in the 2nd -3rd centuries CE. He quotes this dessert from Alcman, an Ancient Greek poet from Sparta, who lived in the 7th cenutry BCE, almost a 1000 years earlier.
Athenaeus (The Deipnosophists 3:75 (111a))
μακωνίδων δ᾽ ἄρτων μνημονεύει Ἀλκμὰν ἐν τῷ ε᾽ οὕτως
κλῖναι μὲν ἑπτὰ καὶ τόσαι τράπεσδαι
μακωνίδων ἄρτων ἐπιστέφοισαι
λίνω τε σασάμω τε κἠν πελίχναις
ἐστὶ βρωμάτιον διὰ μέλιτος καὶ λίνου.
Bread sprinkled with poppy-seed is mentioned by Alcman in Book V as follows:
“Couches seven, and as many tables laden with
poppy-bread, and bread with flax and sesame-seed;
and in cups … golden sweets (Chrysocolla)!”
This is a confection made of honey and flaxseed.
Greek text and translation is by Charles Burton Gulick, from Loeb Classical Library, Vol 1, 1927.
The reason this confection is called Chrysocolla is because it was a golden color, just like gold-solder, called in Greek Chrysocolla, which was used by goldsmiths to solder gold.
Cathy Kaufman in Cooking in Ancient Civilizations (p. 116), asserts that this recipe, besides honey and flaxseed, must have used nuts in order to help bind the mixture, which was “a frequent addition to the second tables.” Second tables is the Greek term deuterai trapezai, which is another name for dessert. I have chosen to use hazelnuts for my version of it and I have to report that the taste is superb and this dessert is very addictive.
This dessert is a great option to serve during the Passover Seder for the reenactment of the original Afikoman, which was a Greek dessert party following the main meal.
- Gulick, Charles Burton. Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists. Vol. 1. Loeb Classical Library, 1927, p. 20-23.
- Kaufman, Cathy K. Cooking in Ancient Civilizations. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, p. 116.
Honey and Flaxseed Confection - Chrysocolla, χρυσοκόλλα
- 1 cup Honey Liquid
- 1.5 cups Hazelnuts Chopped Small
- 1 cup Flaxseed Finely Ground
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil Extra Virgin
- If you are using whole hazelnuts and whole flaxseeds, grind them up into very small pieces in the food processor.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, while constantly mixing everything with a wooden spoon. Do not leave the saucepan on the fire unattended, because the honey will immediately burn.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, while constantly mixing the mixture with a wooden spoon. After 15 minutes the mixture will become really thick and will taste less sweet than in the beginning.
- Pour the the mixture into a 10 inch ceramic pie pan. Smooth out the top surface of the cake with a metal spoon.
- Allow the cake to cool down and solidify for 2 hours. It can be placed in the refrigerator to speed up the process. Serve at room temperature.