Italian Christmas sweets: blanc-manger from the Aosta Valley

 Valle d’Aosta (the Aosta Valley) is Italy’s smallest region, laying in the embrace of France and Switzerland, at the foott of Europe’s highets mountain, the Mont Blanc. Valle d’Aosta  is the Christmas itself: mountains, snow, woods, cosy ski resorts and fireplaces. I simply love it.

The cuisine of this small winter wonderland is not typically Italian as due to the lack of grain, the pasta is missing, but don’t worry, you won’t stay hungry, you can happily survive with the fantastic local dairies (fontina is one of Italy’s best cheeses), and venisons.

Blanc-manger is a characteristic local sweet, close parent of the world famous panna cotta. Its name refers to a medieval way of cooking/baking. Blanc manger itself is a Frenc word, since the Aosta Valley is a French-Italian bilingual region. Blanc manger used to be the name of any kind of food or sweet that was white, the colour that at the time was the symbol of purity and self-control. It characterized the meals of the rich with chicken breast, milk, almonds, sugar, white ginger, whatever ingredient of the colour white.

 

The Blanc-manger of Valle d’Aosta can not be left out of the Christmas menu and this is how you can prepare it:

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter of cream
  • 1 vanilla stick
  • 120 gramms of sugar
  • 5 sheets of gelatin

Start with caramelizing two tablespoons of sugar and afterwards apply it on the inner part of your ramekins and let it chill. In the meantime heat the cream together with the the vanilla stick and the rest of the sugar and the softened gelatin. When the gelatin is completely melted, you can remove the vanilla stick, pour the mixture in your ramekins, have it get golder and then put it in the fridge. After a couple of hours you can invert the content of the ramekins on a small dessert plate. serve your blanc-manger with biscuits or berries.

Buon appetito!

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