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Biancomangiare (Almond pudding)

  • Easy
  • Desserts and Fruit
This recipe is a variation on biancomangiare, a traditional Italian dessert from the Middle Ages.
Liguria

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

  • ½ lb almonds
  • 7 oz sugar
  • 4 gelatin sheets

Preparation:

20 minutes preparation + 6 hours refrigeration time

Finely grind the almonds using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, gradually adding a little water to form a paste.

Mix together well then wrap the paste in a kitchen towel. Place the towel on a flat surface and squeeze out any excess water.

Then soften the gelatin in hot water.
Mix together the almond paste, sugar and sheets of gelatin.
Transfer the mixture into a lightly greased rectangular mold and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Decorate the dessert with sliced almonds and serve sliced.

Food History

Biancomangiare was one of the most common dishes prepared during the Middle Ages, even though it never had a set recipe. Sometimes, this dish was eaten as a second course, while other times it was served as a dessert.
Biancomangiare was generally eaten by the upper classes who had access to ingredients like milk, almonds, rice, sugar or chicken breasts.  The defining characteristic of this dish, however, is its color and not its flavor. Biancomangiare means white food in Italian. Although some ingredients appear in multiple recipes for this dish, there is not one ingredient that is common to them all.
This may have something to do with the fact that the origins of this dish are still a mystery: according to some, biancomangiare comes from Spain, while others believes it is a French preparation. Others still suggest that it come from the Arab world and was introduced to Europe during the Saracen occupation of Spain and Sicily. The dish was already known in Italy by the 11th century and was one of the dishes served at a banquet hosted by Matilde di Canossa.  

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