That first trip also made me realize just how different Sicilian sweets are from those you find in mainland Italy. Adorned with candied fruit, flavored with nuts, and enriched with sheep's milk ricotta (as compared with the milder cows' milk version), they owe their origins, like lots of other Sicilian foods, to the island's many layers of history, most notably the conquest by Saracen invaders from North Africa. By the end of the tenth century, the Saracens had introduced pistachios, oranges, lemons, and dates, as well as refined sugar and spices such as cinnamon and cloves. They brought the art of preparing elaborate pastries, ices, candied fruit, and almond- and pistachio-based confections. Later, these traditions blended with others; chocolate arrived from Spain during the renaissance, and in the 19th century, Swiss pastry chefs who had migrated to Sicily started blending it with ricotta in desserts. As a result, Sicilians have an astonishing repertoire of sweets, from gelato heaped into a brioscia, or brioche—the bun is a legacy of the French influence on Sicilian food—to thick puddings made with everything from coffee to watermelon juice, to the ricotta-filled cannoli that are beloved around the world.