A Venetian Crema with Almonds

The image of mum making crema al mascarpone is sharply ingrained in my mind. First she would divide the yolks from the whites, and whisk them with sugar until pale yellow; then she would top this with heavy mascarpone; finally, she would fluff the whites to soft peaks, and fold them into the cream, gently, patiently. Only after she was done I could clear the bowl and the wooden spoon. To me, it just didn’t get much better than that.

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Sesame Brittle (Cubbaita)

I’ve never been the best at presents, but I have, in time, become pretty skilled at edible presents, among which, this sesame brittle is one of the most popular.

Called croccante in Italian, it is a traditional Sicilian sweet, made especially during Christmas time. The name changes depending on the part of Sicily you stumble upon it: cubbaita in the East and giuggiulena in the West. I even found it to be called cubbaita di giuggiulena, combining the two words. Both are of Arabic origin (as Sicilian cuisine and culture have been deeply influenced by the Arabs): the former means ‘brittle’, the latter ‘sesame’. It is not uncommon to find this brittle on the stall of candy vendors in local fairs throughout the whole country, together with candied almonds, and marzipan/pistachio cookies. In fact, it was in such occasion (a local fair) that I came across it for the first time. It was love at first (sticky, crunchy) bite.

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