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Brazil’s Sweetest Tastes

Brazilian confectionary is deeply rooted in Portuguese culinary tradition. A cornucopia of recipes was brought along with the royal court to Rio de Janeiro in the 19th century. In the New World, many of these preparations were adapted in the presence of local ingredients such as peanuts and cassava flour which were long known and used by Brazilian native peoples. In other cases, they were also modified by the African slaves who, with their own cultural and religious approaches, added much to the country ’s diverse cuisine repertoire of both savoury and sweet recipes. Here are some of Brazil’s most famous confectionaries any visitor should try when traveling the country.

Paçoca

From the Tupi language “po’çoc,” which means to crumble, is one of the most famous sweets in Brazil. Typically found in the countryside kitchens in the estate of São Paulo, it is now made all over the country – it’s said there are over 2,000 factories of paçoca across Brazil. The original recipe was made with peanuts, manioc flour and sugar pounded in a wooden mortar, and was around in the 16th century. Paçoca as we know today is a cork-shaped sweet delight with a thrilling texture: crumbly and at the same time creamy which melts in the mouth. It is a classic in the harvest festivities celebrated every year in June.

Brigadeiro

Some say this favorite sweet was created initially in Rio de Janeiro for the fundraising parties organized by female supporters of Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, who was running for president in 1945. He didn’t win the elections, but his brigadeiros (bree-gah-day-ros) became famous, especially at kid’s birthday parties. It is made with condensed milk, butter and chocolate powder—or other flavouring ingredients—, slowly cooked until a smooth texture, then hand rolled into balls and covered with chocolate sprinkles.

Quindim

Inspired by a Portuguese recipe (the conventual sweet brisa-do-lis, made with sugar, eggs and almond), this sweet was named with the Bantu word for a sweetheart. Instead of almond, ground coconut is used to mix with sugar and eggs. Coconuts and sugar were abundant and still are, in Northeast Brazil, where the sweet first appeared in the 17th century. Similar to a custard, has a glistening surface and a vivid yellow color that makes it irresistible.

Pudim de leite

The Brazilian version of custard pudding is enriched with condensed milk. All the ingredients are slowly cooked, and the pudding is topped with a shiny caramel sauce. A favourite dessert loved by both kids and adults.

Cocada

An authentic example of the African contribution to Brazilian confectionary, this simple and delicious sweet arrived in the country with the African slaves who were sent to work in the sugarcane fields in the northeast. The combination with sugar and coconut can display different colors and texture, ranging from a hard to a soft form.