Saint Lucy is a very popular holiday in many countries around the world, from Sweden to Brazil. In many areas of Italy, this festival also holds an importance equal to the celebration of the Befana (the Epiphany) and Christmas (Santa Claus). In some areas of the Bel Paese, such as Sicily, it is even considered more important. This is why the traditions and recipes related to this special day abound. The two oldest and most famous are without question the Sicilian Cuccìa, prepared in and around Palermo and Syracuse; the locals claim that the dessert originated there.
Sicilian Cuccìa recipe for celebrating Saint Lucy
- 1 kg of fresh sheep’s milk ricotta cheese
- 500 g of cracked wheat, pre-cooked
- 300 g of sugar
- 100 g of chocolate chips
- 100 g of capelli d’angelo (angel’s hair – candied pumpkin squash cut into very fine strips)
- cinnamon powder, to taste
- pinch of salt
- ½ pinch of baking soda
- water, as needed
Put the ricotta cheese in a colander over a bowl and place it back into the fridge to stand until all the whey has drained out. Best to do this a day in advance.
Afterwards, pass it through a wire strainer to obtain a homogeneous mixture.
The cracked wheat can be cooked in two ways. One way is to soak it in water for three days, after which rinse it and boil it in a pressure cooker for about 50 minutes (adding a pinch of salt and a half pinch of baking soda). The second way is to cook the wheat in water, salt and baking soda over very low heat for 6/8 hours, then turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and a wool blanket and let rest overnight.
In both cases, let the wheat cool down in its own cooking water, strain and mix with the ricotta cheese, chocolate chips and candied pumpkin squash. Sprinkle with powdered cinnamon.
The sweet should be kept in the refrigerator and served cold.
Buon Appetito and Happy Saint Lucy!