Biancomangiare is a traditional Sicilian white pudding. Dating back to the Middle Ages, biancomangiare, literally means “white food” or “white dish”, and derives its name from the white color of its main ingredients: almond milk, sugar and cornstarch.
I learned how to make this delicious and creamy Sicilian dessert during my travels in Palermo, Sicily in October of 2016, when I took a most extraordinary class on Sicilian cuisine and cooking techniques with Duchess Nicoletta Polo Lanzo Tomasi.
Biancomangiare is a light and healthy dessert, which is remarkably fresh and easy to make. It is usually infused with citrus and garnished with a colorful medley of indigenous nuts, spices and edible flowers.
You can make biancomangiare in no time, several days ahead of when you need it. When ready to serve, embellish the pure white, silky smooth custard-like dessert with grated bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon, almonds, pistachios, jasmine flowers and candied pumpkin.
Sprinkle the ground cinnamon on the bottom of a 4-cup capacity glass bowl, or you can use individual custard cups or ramekins. Place the sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest into a medium saucepan and whisk together well. Add the almond milk in small amounts, making sure the mixture is smooth and lump free between additions. When all of the almond milk has been added and the mixture is smooth, place the saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent lumps and keep the mixture smooth. Once the mixture boils, it will thicken quickly. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for a minute or two until thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and pour into the large bowl or the individual custard cups. Allow the pudding to cool at room temperature for an hour or so, then place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight until well-chilled and firm. Decorate as desired with the garnish ingredients.
Notes: *If you cannot find candied pumpkin or citron, use candied ginger
**This recipe calls for jasmine flowers which were not in season at the time I wrote this column. I used pansies, which looked great, but jasmine should be in season during the summer and is the preferred edible flower to use for this recipe.