My childhood into a dessert

Recreating the vegan version of this typical Sicilian dessert meant recalling to my memory the culinary gestures and rituals that I observed as a child in my grandmother and my mother. Both, each in her own way, cooked the “cuccìa”, a typical Sicilian dessert that is eaten on December the 13th to celebrate Santa Lucia. Among all the Sicilian sweets, this is one of my favorites for its frugality that, on the other hand, requires days of preparation. Cuccià is a soft and pure creamy dessert, with a crackling soul of boiled wheat berries (it could remember the famous pastiera Napoletana). December the 13th is not a day when you can eat bread, so the cuccìa is the only tasty alternative which commemorates a long period of famine that Sicily faced back in 1646. The original recipe for this delicious dessert is vegetarian as it is made with a soft cream of ricotta cheese, but in my version ricotta gladly gives way to an inviting cream made of cashews. The goodness in preparing the cuccìa lies in creating a treasure chest full of surprises: candied fruit, orange peel, chocolate chips, cinnamon, cocoa powder or grated on the top. Each spoonful recalls to the palate tastes indistinguishable from the Sicilian land and that can be found in other desserts such as buccellato, cassata or cannoli. It is important to let the wheat berries soak for at least 3 days before they are cooked, changing the water cyclically, this will allow the grain to be softer.

 

Vegan Cuccìa

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 200g wheat berries (soaked for 3 days)
  • 2 tangerines
  • 400g cashews (soaked overnight)
  • 1 cup soy yogurt / soy quark (neutral flavor)
  • orange peel powder (optional)
  • candied orange peel
  • chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 -1 cup soy/almond milk
  • cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • dark chocolate

Directions

  1. Soak the wheat berries for 3 days, changing the water 2 times per day
  2. Soak overnight the cashews
  3. Boil the wheat berries in a pot with the tangerine peel for about 3 hours
  4.  meantime discard the water from the cashews
  5. on a blender put the cashews, the sugar, the juice from the tangerines, the vanilla extract, the orange peel powder and soy yogurt and mix all together
  6. add a little at a time the almond milk (should be around 1 cup, try the consistency with a spoon until is smooth)
  7. combine the boiled wheat berries with the cashew ricotta, adding the candied orange peel and the chocolate chips.
  8. top with cinnamon and dark chocolate shavings

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