Recipe: Migliaccio (Italian Farina Custard)

Hellooooo…Migliaccio…Can you hear me down there? Next time I’ll use a shallower pan or hire a photographer.

With all the snow, my mind keeps returning to migliaccio, an Italian custard made from farina. In Italian, migliaccio would be pronounced meal-YA-choh. But it’s been generations since my Neapolitan relatives floated over to our shores and the word has been butchered into mul-YACH. Although I have studied Italian, I don’t bother pronouncing it correctly because no one would know what the heck I was saying. Case in point, I sent my mom an email about this recipe with the correct spelling and she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. She thought I was referring to an old friend with that surname. So, mul-YACH it is.

I grew up in Ozone Park, New York, just a few blocks away from my Aunt Margaret, the daughter of Grandma Margaret of Italian Cheesecake fame. Every night after dinner, we’d walk around the corner to have coffee. The Pyrex glass pot would be on the stove, the coffee inside having been reheated many times that day. Some of you are wincing, I’m sure, but we liked it strong. Never mind that I was under ten and drinking coffee that would put hair on your chest. These days Child Protective Services would be all over that in a heartbeat. Times have changed.

The first snow of the winter season always filled us with glee because it was Aunt Marg’s tradition to make migliaccio. And no matter how high the snow, Aunt Margaret, who possessed better snow navigation skills than even the postman, would always get it to us.

Neither rain nor snow nor coffee klatch will keep Aunt Marg from delivering mul-YACH. 🙂

Most everyone in my family prefers mul-YACH after it has set in the refrigerator and can be neatly sliced. Not bad on a hot summer afternoon, but this is snow food and I’m impatient and in need of inner warmth. So, I tend to scoop my bubbling serving out with a big spoon while it’s all soft and pudding-like. Do I hear an um num num?

A word about the pan you use. If you want to slice it neatly, don’t use the one featured in my photo. The sides are too high and you’ll never get it out in one piece. But if you’re planning on slurping it down using a bowl and spoon, then who really cares, right?

I eat mul-YACH as a snack, but with farina, milk, and eggs in the ingredients, it could count as breakfast.

Give it a try, mangia mangia, and let me know what you think. And see if you can refrain from making it the next time it snows. Bet you can’t.

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Ingredients:

2 cups cold water
1/2 cup farina
1/8 lb unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Steps:

  1. On the stovetop, cook farina in water, stirring until thickened.
    (I use ceramic-glass bakeware (e.g., CorningWare), which can go from stovetop to oven, thereby saving me from washing an extra pot. Good times. 🙂 )
  2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with the milk.
  3. Remove farina from heat and add butter, sugar, milk/egg mixture, and vanilla.
  4. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. Place in oven, and lower temperature to 350 degrees.
  6. Bake 1 hour or more until bubbling and brown.

(If you’re like me, immediately spoon some out into a bowl and take a big mouthful, burning every damn cell in your mouth and making it impossible for you to taste the spoonfuls that come next.)

Enjoy! While you’re eating, take a peek at my recipe for Farina Muffins. Yum.

41 comments on “Recipe: Migliaccio (Italian Farina Custard)

  1. Richard on

    Sounds yum num num! I want some! Despite the fact that the English snow is long gone. Over here, we’d probably pronounce it migg-leech-ee-oh or something. 😉

    You should probably include rappelling gear in the ingredients so you can get to it in that bowl. 😛

    Love the nostalgia in this one. 🙂

    Reply
    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      Let me know if she’s heard of it. I’m curious. When I was writing this blog, I couldn’t find it mentioned on the internet in English, so I looked it up in Italian and found a bunch of recipes, all different. Many of them have orange or lemon flavorings in them, or use a different kind of grain.

      Reply
      • rebecca @ altared spaces on

        Who needs to become a photographer with a face as gorgeous as yours and a sharp wit that makes people laugh?? If you are successful at everything how will I be able to relate to you??? You must throw me a bone here. Do NOT take a photography lesson.

        Reply
  2. bronxboy55 on

    I just melted into my chair reading this. I can only hope we’re long-lost cousins so we can get together for Sicilian desserts. (And now that I think of it, I imagine it would be hard to prove we’re not long-lost cousins.) I loved the caption, too. I’m going back to read it again.

    Reply
    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      Thanks, Charles. I was looking through my recipe file last night trying to decide which of the Sicilian recipes I want to put up. It’s 2-0 Neapolitans at the moment. 😉

      The problem is I don’t have original recipes from that side of the family. Everything was a handful of this, a pinch of that. No measurements. And since I was very young at the time, I don’t even have a good recollection of what stuff looked like in the making. Sometimes just knowing the desired consistency of something helps you along. That’s how the old-timers did it, I think.

      Regarding being long-lost cousins, don’t worry, I’m already referring to you as cugino. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Josie on

    Hi Margaret. my husband’s family, origionally from Naples, Ischia, (and how coincidental, half the family lives in Howard Beach), also have a recipe for “mool -Yach”. Their recipe, although very delicious is very different from your recipe. Their recipe is more of a noodle pudding with very thin pasta and ricotta and very sweet. Your family’s Mool -Yach looks so delicious, I can’t wait to make it, I know I’m gonna love it!

    Reply
      • Josie on

        Hi Margaret, I found the recipe, it’s real easy.

        Mouliacc

        3 lbs. ricotta
        1 dozen eggs
        1 package of fine egg noodles
        1 1/2 cups sugar
        extra sugar for sprinkling
        2 oranges, zest and juice
        2 teaspoons vanilla
        dash of cinnamon
        2 sticks butter, melted to soften

        Cook noodles, mix into all ingredients. Pour into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350 until golden brown. When done, cut into squares. Enjoy!

        Reply
  4. vmayberry on

    Don’t know you at all…but I love farina and flan separately. Decided to see what kind of custard I could make and ended up using basically the same recipe you have here, add cinnamon, Soooooooooflippingdelicious. Seriously. I hope no one else in my family of 5 likes it so that I can eat it all by myself. Mmmmmmmm!

    Reply
  5. Huffygirl on

    I’m glad you mentioned this Margaret, because somehow I missed this before. Don’t know how that could have happened, because I never intentionally skip an email from “Conjuring my Muse.” The ingredients sound so mundane, to turn into something apparently so delightful. Think if would work with margarine instead of butter?

    Reply
  6. Edie on

    OMG. I cannot believe that SOMEONE else knows what mulyach is!!! My Napliatano mom had a tradition of always making it (mostly for me) on Fat Tuesday. She was never one to share recipes and even hides them. Sadly, she has alzheimer’s now and I thought this fabulous memory was lost forever. When I found this recipe, I literally cried. My mom is still with me and I hope she remembers it when I make it for her. Which I plan to do today. It’s not Fat Tuesday, but I’ll make an exception!

    Reply
  7. Cathy on

    I have been looking for this recipe for years, my Gr 7 Home Economics teacher, Miss Traynor gave us a printout for a recipe called Apple Farina Pudding, which my 88 year old Mom loves. Peel and slice apples and cook in a pan with brown sugar and butter. Place in the bottom of a buttered casserole dish and pour the prepared Farina from your recipe over the top and bake for 1 hour. I would omit the water and cook the Farina right in 1 cup of the milk, when thickened add the other cup of milk and the rest of the ingredients before pouring over the cooked apples to make the custard thicker. This is great hot or cold, for dessert or for breakfast. I won’t lose the recipe this time
    Thanks Margaret!

    Reply
    • MRD on

      Hi Cathy, Thank you for sharing this variation. I love cooked apples. It sounds delicious. It snowed briefly this morning, so I have an excuse to make a batch.

      Reply
  8. Dawn Amonte Wriedt on

    I, too am from ozone park (south) Liberty ave and Lefferts blvd by PS 100 many many years ago!

    Anyway. I finally learned the spelling of miglaccio! We (NY-Neapolitan) pronounced it as molly-ach. We made it with both farina and ricotta. Heavy on the lemon juice and zest. Sprinkled with powdered sugar. Served it with strong coffee, even to kids!
    I lost my family recipes in a move and it broke my heart. Reading your story encouraged me to try to recreate it using your recipe as a foundation, and playing with it a bit.
    It worked!!
    I make 5 pies at Christmas time (along with 5 lasagnas). Even when I cut the recipe in half, I still some how wound up with 5 pies! I guess it’s my destiny to make 5. It all goes! None wasted. Ever! Another Revope loved but lost and named after my family was the Amonte Easter cake.
    It had whole hard boiled ehgs braided into the sides. This one Im not brave enough to try to recreate but will always be in my heart’s memory. Anything come to mind?

    Reply
    • MRD on

      Hi Dawn! Nice to meet a fellow OZ person. I have tasted a version of migliaccio with ricotta. It was fantastic. It was baked in a pie crust and served cold. Very refreshing as a summer dessert and completely opposite my version, which is my snow-day go-to.

      I’m so sorry about your lost recipes. But YES, they can be recreated with a little trial and error and lots of tasting (never a bad thing). I love your anecdote about the 5 pies and lasagnas. It’s your version of the fishes and the loaves. LOL.

      Regarding the Amonte Easter cake, I consulted with my cugino Sal, who is a god at baking. He always made a braided Easter bread with dyed, hard boiled eggs in it. It wasn’t a cake. However, he has tried a savory recipe that he found online and gave his seal of approval. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU7Rzddk3g8. It looks more like the Easter meat pie (Pizza Rustica, or Pizza “Gain”) my napoletano side used to make for Easter. Not sure if that’s what you meant by cake.

      If you try it, let me know how it turns out.

      Reply

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