Sweat Wheat: Grano Dolce

When I picked today’s dessert, I did so under the assumption that it was spring, and therefore something light and fruity (gasp!) seemed appropriate. Then what happens today? Snow. Yup. Snow all day. April 19th. Lovely.

In any case, the ingredients were bought, so I forged ahead.  Grano dolce intrigued me because it called for a few new ingredients- wheat berries and vino cotto. I’d heard of the wheat berries before, but had never eaten or cooked them.  Wheat berries are the 100% whole grain part of the wheat before any processing.  I pictured it to be a bit like barley, and I like barley well enough, so I figured I’d give the wheat berry a whirl.



Wheat berries. Yes, my hands are dry. I hate lotion.

As for the vino cotto, it seems to be is a sweet red wine cooked all the way down into syrup.  I suppose I could have made it, but that actually had not occurred to me until after I went to five different stores looking for it and found an acceptable substitute: very aged balsamic vinegar.

Here’s the thing with this balsamic. It’s fantastic- and expensive. My coworker Peaches insisted that, despite the price tag, Eggplant and I try it, perfect to be poured over ice cream. You know what? Totally worth it and Eggplant now has to hide it from her husband.  Therefore, I found this to be the perfect swap for a sweet, reduced red.



Liquid gold

A grano dolce is typically put together from whatever grains and nuts are in the house, and minimally sweetened with available fruit.  Shared by Apulians and Sicilians, it’s similar to Greek and Turkish desserts.  I used strawberries, roasted walnuts, roasted almonds, dark chocolate and, of course, fresh whipped cream. No Cool Whip in this household.

Overall, this was really easy and, despite being a fruit based dessert, really good. Perfect for the summer, maybe with a sweet glass of red.

Serves 4


¾ cup wheat berries, soaked 12 hours in cool water to cover

Pinch salt

2 TB sugar

½ ounce dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup strawberries, chopped

¼ cup walnut halves, toasted

¼ cup blanched almonds, chopped

¼ cup vino cotto, or reduced balsamic vinegar

½ cup whipping cream, whipped up with a bit of sugar


1.  Drain the wheat berries and place them in a saucepan with the salt and ¾ cup water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes, stirring often.  Drain.

2.  Meanwhile, combine the sugar, chocolate, strawberries, walnuts, almonds and balsamic in a large bowl.  Stir in the hot wheat berries and cool to room temperature.

3.  Serve in goblets, topped with whipped cream.

**This can be made up ahead of time, but do not refrigerate the wheat berries or they’ll get hard**



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