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Top 5 Brazilian sweets

The art of confectionery in Brazil is deeply rooted in Portuguese culinary traditions. The European settlers brought a cornucopia of recipes and cooking techniques to the New World, where many of these traditional preparations were quickly adopted and adapted. The coming of the royal court to Rio de Janeiro during the 19th century helped to instill the Portuguese habits around the table. In the tropical lands, classic recipes faced many adaptations, inspired by a multitude of local ingredients. Peanuts and coconut, two essential staple foods among the native Brazilians, soon became popular ingredients in the settler’s kitchen. The significant presence of African slaves in the new country also played a major role between cooks and pots. Their cultural and religious elements added much to the country’s diverse cuisine repertoire of both savoury and sweet recipes. Here are the five most famous sweet treats you must try on your next visit to Brazil.

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 made today all over the country – there are over 2,000 factories of paçoca across Brazil. The original recipe involved pounding together manioc flour and sun-dried meat in a wooden mortar. It made up the perfect traveling food for horseback travelers. A sweet version soon appeared around 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

Legend tells this beloved national sweet was created by housewives in Rio de Janeiro. They started selling it during the fund-raising campaigns for Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, in 1945. He didn’t win the presidential elections, but his brigadeiros (bree-gah-day-ros) found their special place at the table. No children birthday parties are complete without these delicious round sweets. The recipe is simple and takes only three ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, butter and chocolate powder, slowly cooked until a smooth texture. Then they are hand-rolled into balls and covered with chocolate sprinkles.

Quindim

Quindin is inspired by a Portuguese recipe known as  brisa-do-lis, a conventual sweet made with sugar, eggs and almond. It was named with the Bantu word for sweetheart. Instead of almonds, 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 confectionery, 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.