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.

I made crema today, too, using a slightly different recipe – taken from Mariù Salvatori De Zuliani’s brilliant book on Venetian food – but still repeating the same gestures my mum used to perform in those days: the whisking, the folding, the chilling – a beautiful exercise in recalling flavours and memories.

Venetian Crema with Almonds

 Serves 6

For the croccante:
60g almonds, roughly chopped
100g caster sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced

In a small saucepan, whisk the sugar and the lemon juice. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat and keep whisking until the sugar starts bubbling. At this point, add the almonds. Stir to coat with the caramel, and allow the mixture to become dark brown and gluey. At this point, transfer it over a clean marble greased with some butter. Spread evenly and allow to cool before breaking into pieces.
For the custard:
4 egg yolks
120g caster sugar
4 tbsp potato or corn starch
1/4 L (1 cup) milk, hot

1/4 L (1 cup) double cream

In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and the sugar until the latter has dissolved and the yolks turn fluffy and pale yellow, about 10 minutes. Sift in the starch and keep whisking energetically, until fully incorporated.
Slowly pour the hot milk over the egg mixture while still whisking. Transfer it to a large saucepan and heat it over very low heat. The custard will take about 15 minutes to fully set, and during this time, you will have to keep whisking it to avoid burning or sticking. The custard is done when it visibly thickens and turns darker in colour. Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass bowl to cool.

Only when the custard has reached room temperature, whip the cream to firm peaks. Fold gently into the custard, together with the bits of croccante, until fully combined. Transfer the custard to individual cups and refrigerate for 4 hours before serving with biscuits such as amarettior baicoli veneziani.

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  1. Emiko June 19, 2014

    I love this, Val, just my sort of dessert and I am really loving your photographs for this post too. I can just imagine the little Murano cups and the setting of the Venetian villas – beautiful.

  2. Bobbiann December 18, 2014

    My husband wants a Venetian cream filling for his chocolate birthday cake, so I will try this one—without the croccante. Looks yummy!

    • Valeria December 19, 2014

      it's so delicious and decadent – I'm sure he'll love it! let me know! x


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