“Biancomangiare,” literally means “White Eating”or in French “Blancmange”; it a dish known since the Middle Ages. It is characterized by the presence of white ingredients, considered a symbol of purity. It was intended for the rich and could be found both sweet and salty; milk, lard, chicken breast, almonds, rice were used to prepare it, all strictly white ingredients.
Over time, this dish has turned into a real dessert, particularly in Sicily, where almonds (the main ingredient), is abundant.
Biancomangiare: the recipe
It is a spoon dessert, white in color, with a texture so soft that it melts in your mouth. You can eat it for breakfast, as a snack accompanied by biscuits and for dinner as a dessert.
It is a dessert that is often prepared at home, given the ease of the procedure and the goodness of the result. There are many variations in Sicily: some recipes include almonds put to macerate, others almond milk, others still cow or sheep milk. There are those who enrich it with lemon peel, some with pistachio grains and some with jasmine or cinnamon flowers.
- 120 g sugar
- 50 g corn starch (or in alternative [fish] gelatin; about 10 gr. )
- 500 ml almond milk
- lemon peel
- Fruit Coulis of choice (optional)
Going Natural All the Way
I decided to go the most natural way and I made my own almond milk by soaking overnight 300 gr of peeled almonds in fresh water. The day after blending the almonds until I obtained a white thick paste, strained it thru a cheese cloth and squeezed out all liquid. Then added 1 lt. Fresh water (or mineral water); it yields almost two liters of almond milk. White and delicious!
- Dissolve the corn starch with 100 ml of cold milk. Or in alternative use the gelatin, the way I did. I do not like too much the corn starch. I didn’t like the texture, nor the thickness. The gelatin is lighter and fresher. But that’s just me.
- Separately, in a saucepan, pour 400 ml of almond milk and the lemon peel to infuse over low heat.
- When it simmers, remove the lemon peel.
- Add the sugar and the previously dissolved starch.
- Stir with a whisk until the blancmange thickens: it will have a consistency halfway between a pudding and a crème caramel.
- Pour it into molds, or glasses, and let it cool.
Serve the Biancomangiare with cinnamon, chopped pistachios or whatever you like. I chose blueberry coulis!
The blancmange tastes of home, tastes of tradition, tastes of family. Yes, it is a dessert with few ingredients, and it is particularly suitable as a summery desert, fresh and light.