Cuscus dolce (dessert couscous)

Yield: 8 Servings

Measure Ingredient
60 \N Pistachio nuts
\N \N Coarse-grained salt
5 \N Extra-large eggs
8 tablespoons Sugar
1 cup Heavy cream; cold
½ cup Milk; lukewarm
2 tablespoons Rosewater
1 pounds Couscous (not instant)
1 cup Water; cold
½ teaspoon Salt
3½ cup Flour
1 cup Water; cold
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Confectioners' sugar
5 drops Vanilla extract
2 ounces Semisweet chocolate
3 ounces Almonds; toasted
2 ounces Candied citron
2 ounces Candied orange peel





In Sicily, couscous is even a dessert, incorporating the age-old Mediterranean almonds, rosewater, pistachio nuts, candied citron, and orange peel as well as chocolate and custard cream, which most likely were added in later centuries.

Prepare the custard cream. Blanch the pistachio nuts in a pan of boiling water with coarse salt added (otherwise the nuts will turn yellow). Dry the nuts with paper towels, then finely chop them on a board or grind them in a food processor. Place the egg yolks in a medium-sized crockery or glass bowl, add the sugar, and use a wooden spoon to mix the sugar into the yolks until they turn a lighter color. Slowly add the cream, then the lukewarm milk, mixing steadily.

Add the chopped nuts and the rosewater, and mix very well. Place in the top of a double boiler.

Bring water to a boil in the bottom of the double boiler. When the water begins to boil, insert the top, making sure the water does not touch it, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, always in the same direction. When the cream coats the spoon, just before it boils (absolutely do not allow the cream to boil), remove the top of the double boiler from the heat and continue to stir the contents for 1 minute more. Transfer the custard to an empty wine bottle (to keep skin from forming), cork it, and refrigerate until needed.

Prepare the couscous: Spread out the grain on a large serving platter or cookie sheet. Dissolve the salt in a small bowl with 1 cup of the water. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the salted water on the grain, then use the fingers of one hand to rub some grains against the palm itself, using a rotating motion to incorporate the water evenly into the grain. Keep repeating this with additinal teaspoons of salted water and grains until you have used up ¼ cup of water and the couscous is evenly wet all over. Spread the grain evenly over a cotton dish towel and let rest for 1 hour.

Put 8 cups of water in stockpot. Put a strainer or steamer which fits snuggly over stockpot. Using the flour and a cup of cold water, prepare a thcik dough to seal the area connecting the two halves of the steamer. Roll this dough into a thick rope long enough to fit around the perimeter of the pot. Using the rope of dough, cover the circle where the top and bottom parts of the steam meet to seal it.

Place the steamer over medium heat, and when the water reaches a boil and the steam begins to rise through the holes of the strainer, add the couscous grain. (It is also convenient to spread a cheesecloth over the strainer holes to facilitate removing the steamed grains.) Cover tightly with a lid and steam for 30 minutes.

Spoon out the couscous onto a large platter and start rubbing the grains between the palms of your hands, incorporating the remaining ¾ cup of salted water, little by little to separate any that have stuck together and to retain an even and uniform consistency of individual grains. Let the couscous rest for 1 hour until cool.

Mix the granulated and confectioners' sugar with the vanilla in a large bowl. Cut the chocolate into pieces the size of half an almond.

Cut the toasted almonds in half and the candied fruit into pieces the same size. Add the couscous, chocolate, and almonds to the bowl with the sugar and mix very well. Transfer the couscous to a large serving platter and arrange it in one thick layer. Pour the cooled custard cream over the couscous and serve, spooning out the sweet grain topped with custard sauce.

Source: "Bugialli on Pasta" by Giuliano Bugialli

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