Biancomangiare is a fresh and fragrant spoon dessert made with very few ingredients.
It’s basically a pudding made from fresh whole milk, with no eggs, no cream and no gelatin. In fact, a little cornstarch is enough to thicken Biancomangiare, so it’s also gluten-free.
This recipe belongs to the Sicilian tradition but is also popular in Sardinia (Papai-Biancu). Its execution is really very simple, requiring a few minutes (besides cooling in the refrigerator) and a few simple ingredients.
A dessert of humble and home-style origin, Sicilian Biancomangiare is a very old recipe with a lot of history behind it.
In more recent times, especially in the Modica area, the custom of preparing Biancomangiare also with almond milk has spread, resulting in an equally delicious and completely vegan dessert!
Biancomangiare is similar to Panna cotta, but has a softer and less gelatinous texture.
As with all local and traditional Italian sweets, each town features its own recipe with its own additions and flavorings. In Modica, for example, they flavor it with vanilla and decorate it with chocolate curls. In the Ragusa area, on the other hand, they favor cinnamon and lemon zest.
Sicilian Biancomangiare can be enjoyed as a fresh, scented dessert or as a delicate snack at any time of day.
Suitable for any time of the year, Sicilian Biancomangiare will win you over with its delicate and refined simplicity!
- Prep Time: 5 Min
- Cooking Time: 10 Min
- Cooling Time: 4 H
How to Make Sicilian Biancomangiare: Instructions
Step 1) – Making Sicilian Biancomangiare is really very easy. First, with the heat off, pour 50 g (4 tablespoons) of cornstarch into a saucepan.
Then add a small amount of milk taken from the total, say 125 ml (1/2 cup).
Step 2) – Mix well to form a smooth cream without lumps. Then add 100 g (1/2 cup) of granulated sugar and continue mixing.
Step 3) – When you are sure there are no lumps, you can add the rest of the milk – 375 g (1 1/2 cup) – and some lemon zest taken with a peeler.
Step 4) – Now you can transfer the saucepan to the heat and start cooking over medium heat, stirring all the time.
You will see that in about 3-4 minutes the consistency of the mixture will begin to change and become thicker and thicker.
Continue stirring until it comes to a boil. When the first bubbles appear, do not turn off the heat, but continue stirring and cooking for 1-2 more minutes.
Step 5) – Turn off the heat and remove the lemon zest. Traditionally, this milk cream is poured into a pudding mold. You can also opt for smaller single portion molds.
Allow to cool and then refrigerate the Biancomangiare for at least 4 hours.
PLEASE NOTE: I recommend wetting the inside of the mold before pouring in the cream. This will make it easier to remove the Biancomangiare from the mold.
Step 6) – Unmold the Biancomangiare on a serving dish and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.
PLEASE NOTE: I have suggested cinnamon powder, but you can use other decorations such as pistachios granules for example. Or you can enjoy the Biancomangiare plain, just with the flavor of lemon zest.
You can store Sicilian Biancomangiare in the refrigerator covered with food wrap for 2 – 3 days.
How to Serve Biancomangiare
In Sicily, people flavor and decorate Biancomangiare in different ways according to local traditions.
- AROMAS: The most common flavorings, added directly to the milk, are lemon zest, cinnamon or vanilla. In Modica, for example, it’s mainly flavored with vanilla and decorated with curls of the famous Modica chocolate. In Ragusa, on the other hand, the Biancomangiare is decorated and flavored with cinnamon and fresh or candied lemon peel.
- TOPPING: Traditionally in Sicily, Biancomangiare is decorated with a sprinkling of cinnamon or with pistachios or almond slivers, all typical Sicilian products.
In addition to the above ingredients, all of which are traditional and typical of Sicily, the decorations and combinations can be chosen according to the season and the occasion.
Given the delicate taste of Biancomangiare, you can easily combine it with many different flavors.
- FRESH FRUIT: In warm weather you can combine it with fresh fruit, such as strawberries or peaches.
- DRIED FRUIT: Or use dried fruit such as nuts, hazelnuts or glazed chestnuts in winter.
- CHOCOLATE: Add melted chocolate or a sprinkling of bitter cocoa.
Have fun customizing your Biancomangiare any way you like!
Sicilian Biancomangiare: Some Variations
Biancomangiare of Modica: Almond Milk Pudding
Among the variations of Sicilian Biancomangiare, the one from Modica is the most popular.
Probably as widespread and famous as the classic one, the Modica recipe calls for the use of almond milk instead of cow’s milk, or for the two to be used together.
Almond milk gives the dessert a very special taste, but it’s very sweet: in this case, remember to reduce the amount of sugar so as not to have a cloying product.
If, on the other hand, you have chosen a sugar-free almond milk, you will not run this risk.
This almond milk pudding is usually flavored with vanilla berries and decorated with almonds and dark chocolate.
Biancomangiare with Cookies
In Sicily, it’s often customary to make a layered cake with biancomangiare, alternating cookies and pudding.
In general, Biancomangiare with cookies is typical made for the children during the holidays.
Biancomangiare with cookies is so dear to childhood memories that in some parts of Sicily the term “biancomangiare” refers to this dessert and not to the classic biancomangiare pudding.
Traditionally, this layered dessert is decorated on the surface with colored sugar sprinkles.
Since the Middle Ages, the name “Biancomangiare” refers to a dish characterized by the presence of white ingredients, considered a symbol of purity.
This dish was reserved for the rich.
In ancient times there was also a savory version of biancomangiare. To prepare it, they used milk, lard, chicken breast and broth, almonds and rice. All the ingredients were strictly white.
Over time, the savory version was abandoned and the dish became a real dessert.
Some believe it originated in France. In fact, many texts refer to it as “Blanc Manger”.
The spread of Biancomangiare in Italy occurred around the 11th century. This recipe is also mentioned in the “Description of the wedding dinner between Maria de’ Medici and Henry IV of France” written by Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger.
The recipe was very popular during the Renaissance.
Biancomangiare was eaten at banquets. Pellegrino Artusi describes the recipe in his famous book “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Good Food”.
Today, biancomangiare is part of the traditional food of three Italian regions (Sicily, Sardinia and Valle d’Aosta), but the Sicilian version is the most famous.