Lucia has been venerated by Italian Catholics for centuries, as the patron saint not only of Syracuse but of communes all over Italy. Here's the typical treat to celebrate the 13th December in Sicily.

La Cuccìa

Level: medium

Prep time: 20 minutes – 120 minutes cooking

Method: boiling

Yields 5 servings

Ingredients

150 g wheat germ

300 g sheep’s milk ricotta

150 g sugar

100 g zuccata (candied white pumpkin)

100 g dark chocolate

Powdered cinnamon

Method

Sort the wheat germ removing any odd bits, rinse and soak in cold water for at least two days. Drain, place in a saucepan and cover with approximately two liters of water. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat to low and cook for two hours, until tender. Drain and spread on a clean cloth to dry perfectly, then collect in a bowl. Push the ricotta through a fine mesh strainer, add the sugar and 1/2  tsp of cinnamon and blend with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.

Cube the pumpkin, reserving a small piece, and the flake the chocolate. Incorporate with the cooked wheat and with the ricotta cream. Arrange the cuccìa in a bowl and decorate the surface with the rest of the pumpkin cut into strips and with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Refrigerate. This simple family dessert is traditionally prepared on December 13, the feast of Saint Lucia. On that day, hundreds of years ago, a ship loaded with wheat arrived in the port of Palermo and saved the citizens from starvation, who had been suffering the hardship of a long famine.