Ways with cugna – dessert recipe

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Cugna….. I love the way even just the word feels in the mouth. The way it rolls around the ‘u’ and then opens onto the ‘a’. It promises for something hearty and I daresay this simple kind of Piedmontese mustard is exactly that.

Cugna is a local product from the Langhe area and is made with grape must, apples, hazelnuts, and anything else. It’s exactly the kind of homemade Italian product where each family has a secret recipe that most likely varies each year based on what the harvest gives, or what’s leftover in the pantry. It’s made into a kind of jam, or grape mustard, and generally served with cheese.

The best cugna I’ve ever had was also the first cugna I ever had, given to us sometime around Christmas a few years ago by our friend Liliana. It’s a joy to receive anything from such a friendly face and Liliana’s kitchen produces happy, sunny things, much like the lady herself. She has a little secret for her cugna, which gives it a more complex, delicate flavour. The one I currently have is a Roddolo product (they make some nice stuff) and comes from our local grocery store.


In my case I don’t eat a lot of cheese and I happen to quite like cugna. This is the kind of dessert you make when you have nothing else in the house but are craving something sweet after dinner. So I threw some things together and at the risk of being sacrilegious, I hereby share with you this very sophisticated cugna dessert recipe: roughly crushed digestive biscuits thrown into a bowl (personally I think maybe a hazelnut base would work better), Greek yoghurt topped with cugna and some hazelnut chips to finish.

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