facebook-icon  linkedin-icon  google-plus-cynthia-presser  pinterest-icon  youtube-icon  stumbleupon-icon  email-icon

Queijadinha (Brazilian Coconut and Cheese Sweet)

queijadinha-brazilian-portuguese-dessert-foodgawker-1

Queijadinha (pronounced quei-jad-in-ha) might be one of the easiest and most delicious sweets I have ever posted! Made with only 4 ingredients, this dessert had its origins in Portugal. But once it was brought to Brazil during the colonial period, the African slaves added coconut to the original recipe turning it into a true Brazilian delight. And oh, how much do I love anything with coconut??!!

This centennial dessert is like a cross in between a cake and a flan. It holds its shape enough to be eaten without the use of utensils, but it has an extra creamy center. Naturally gluten-free, this Brazilian traditional sweet can be found at any bakery down there.

If you are a coconut lover, you will absolutely love the smell in your house after you bake the Queijadinha. Enjoy at room temperature, if you can be strong enough to resist the temptation of eating just right off the oven.

Add a comment

Read more: Queijadinha (Brazilian Coconut and Cheese Sweet)

Brazilian Strawberry and Chocolate Trifle (Pavê Bombom de Morango)

brazilian-strawberry-chocolate-trifle-photography-3

If there is a dessert that reminds me of my high school years, it is this one! I remember this treat being the favorite of all my friends at that time… Today, when I take a bite, and taste the combination of flavors in this dessert I am immediately transported to a comfort place of lots of laughing, friendship, discoveries, and fun, just so much fun! Those were the years of no responsibilities – except school of course. Those were the days…

Being one of the first desserts that I ever learned how to make, I must confess that I made a couple of adaptations to better fit the American palate – and even my own now. Back on the day, I used to make it sweeter (by using milk chocolate for the ganache) and creamier (by skipping the layer of lady fingers). I felt that a more “adult” version needed to be developed. But I still wanted to keep the simplicity of the original method and flavors. So, I turned this dessert into what we call in Brazil a Pavê – a dessert that layers some sort of cookie and custard with different kinds of fruits, nuts, or other sweet creams. It is a Brazilian version of a Trifle.

For my Brazilian Strawberry and Chocolate Trifle (Pavê Bombom de Morango) I quickly dunk lady fingers into a mix of water and brandy (you can sub rum, whisky, or cognac) and place on the base of the dish. Then, I layer on top creamy custard, strawberries, and dark chocolate ganache. No need to bake, just refrigerate for a few hours and serve! It can’t get any simpler.

Also, this dessert can be a great option for a Valentine’s Day dinner – chocolate and strawberries, hello!!! “Impress” your love by making something from scratch. Even better yet, by making a “Brazilian Strawberry and Chocolate Trifle” from scratch!! If you are making for just two people, cut the ingredient portions by half and assemble in individual bowls – or use glass tumblers or mugs. You should have four portions - leftovers for the next day show that you care ;) Your valentine will feel the love. Enjoy!

Add a comment

Read more: Brazilian Strawberry and Chocolate Trifle (Pavê Bombom de Morango)

Sonho (Brazilian Beignet)

sonho-brazilian-pastry-dessert-beigniet-6

It’s not a secret that I don’t like to bake with rising agents… Most of my baked recipes don’t have yeast, baking powder, or baking soda – not even my easy, gooey and delicious Pão de Queijo recipe. It makes me nervous knowing that the measurements must be super exact, otherwise I might end up with a failed baking project. The exceptions to my “rule” are my Tres Leches Cake and my Dulce de Leche and Coconut Layer Cake – mainly because I’ve made them way too many times. Honestly, I feel like the use of rising agents in a recipe take away from the spontaneity of my cooking and prevents me of adding or subtracting components as I go – which I love to do! And, of course, there is the wait-until-it-rises factor. Oh, my goodness! Gotta have the patience.


Well, but I don’t have much of a choice when I get a craving for something Brazilian – which for the most part can’t just be purchased on the bakery down the street… When cravings happen, I roll up my sleeves, and try to dissect the recipe to make sure I get it right. It bores me sometimes, but afterwards it is totally worth it!


That was the case of a signature Brazilian pastry called Sonho - something I had been craving for a while. And I couldn’t just go buy it, I had to make it. Since I didn’t want to waste my time with a failed project, I researched quite a bit until I found a trustworthy and uncomplicated recipe.


Sonho – which literally translates to Dream – is equivalent to a Brazilian beignet, except that Sonho is always shaped round and filled with something that is sweet and creamy. Sonho is very popular and it is available at every bakery in Brazil.


Sonho – pronounced “SON-yoo” – is crunchy on the outside, and fluffy in the inside. In this simple method, the dough is formed into golf-size balls that are deep fried until golden-brown to later receive a generous portion of sweet filling.


For this recipe, I chose dulce de leche, my absolute favorite, but the filling is totally up to you! Guava paste, Nutella, chocolate ganache, and coconut cream are some other popular options, and since it yields for about 35 to 40 units, it is perfect to be shared with friends!


This recipe turned out just like the Sonho I would get at the bakery down the street in my hometown. My craving is now gone, and I am happy that I was brave enough to take care of it!

Add a comment

Read more: Sonho (Brazilian Beignet)

Passion Fruit Mousse (Mousse de Maracujá)

passion_fruit_mousse_1_foodgawker

I cannot think of any simpler and easier dessert than Passion Fruit Mousse. This recipe was one of the first desserts I ever made - I was probably around 15 years-old. It really cannot get any easier than gathering ingredients, blending, refrigerating, serving. Can it? 

The flavors of this mousse are fresh and sweet, with a touch of tartness. For those unfamiliar with passion fruit, it is a very tart fruit - which makes it a great ingredient for desserts and sauces, and it is widely utilized in Brazilian cuisine. 

This 3-ingredient dessert is very popular in Brazil. It is often served in shot glasses at parties for just a "taste" - as part of those big dessert tables that us, Brazilians, love to display at birthday parties and weddings. 

If you were looking for a super easy, delicate, and delicious dessert to serve at your summer gatherings with friends, look no further... Passion Fruit Mousse will make everyone happy!

Add a comment

Read more: Passion Fruit Mousse (Mousse de Maracujá)

Chocolate Fudge Flan Cake (Brigadeirão)

brigadeirao_brazilian_dessert_flan_cake

It is so wonderful how much lately I have been coming across more and more people that have already tried (and loved) Brigadeiros! It really warms my heart to know that our traditional Brazilian desserts are conquering fans all over the globe :) Well, our sweets are really delicious and so many of them are pretty easy to make. It is the case of this Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Flan Cake – a decadent mousse-like dessert that was inspired in those little Brazilian fudge balls.

In Brazil, we call it Brigadeirão – pronounced with that very heavy intonation towards the end that only Portuguese speaking people can say… Despite the crazy name, this gluten-free flan cake is the perfect dessert for chocolate lovers. It’s simple to make, but it requires a little bit of planning ahead since it has to be chilled for at least 6 hours before it is unmolded. Take a look…

Add a comment

Read more: Chocolate Fudge Flan Cake (Brigadeirão)

Pumpkin-Coconut Balls (Beijinho de Abóbora com Coco)

pumpkin-coconut-ball-fg

I love to live in the US, but I especially love to be here at this time of year! It’s so wonderful to experience the preparations for Thanksgiving, to watch the beautiful change of fall colors, and to eat all sorts of pumpkin recipes!!

Pumpkin is an ingredient that I really enjoy, and it is great to be able to share some new uses of it based on my Brazilian cooking background.

Pumpkin and coconut is a very popular (and super delicious!) combination of ingredients in Brazilian cuisine. We make cakes, pies, ice cream, compotes and so on using this mixture.

So my Pumpkin-Coconut Balls are inspired in another Brazilian dessert: the “Beijinho” (translates to “Little Kisses”) which is a Coconut Ball. These kinds of sweets - rolled small balls - are commonly served at birthday parties in Brazil and everyone loves them! I think that the greatest advantage of serving these for large groups is the clean-up: no plates, serving utensils, forks or spoons are necessary – and that makes it a very practical idea for Thanksgiving. I think that the traditional pies have to be at the Thanksgiving table, but these could be a fun add-on to the dessert table. I guarantee it will be a hit!

Add a comment

Read more: Pumpkin-Coconut Balls (Beijinho de Abóbora com Coco)

Bonbon Pie (Torta de Bombom Sonho de Valsa)

torta-sonho-de-valsa-fg

My Bonbon Pie was created around one very popular Brazilian chocolate candy named “Sonho de Valsa”. If either you are from or have been to Brazil, chances are that you know and love “Sonho de Valsa”.

This bonbon has a rich filling made of cashew cream, with a thin crunchy layer of wafer around it and another thin layer of silky milk chocolate covering it all. It is my favorite piece of candy and I used to always bring a few bags of “Sonho de Valsa” back with me when I visited home. Now, thanks to Amazon I can order online and always have it available – which can be seriously dangerous since I cannot resist but having one every day.

My Bonbon Pie is incredibly decadent! It has a crunchy crust on the bottom, topped with rich custard, pieces of “Sonho de Valsa”, smooth ganache and creamy whipped meringue. Each layer complement each other and, just like the chocolate candy “Sonho de Valsa”, I think it is so hard not to fall to the temptation: when I make this pie I have a slice every day! In fact, I had a large slice after lunch today. It was worth every single one of the calories!

Add a comment

Read more: Bonbon Pie (Torta de Bombom Sonho de Valsa)

Quindim (Quindão)

quindim-brazilian-dessert-fd 

This bright yellow and decadent custard has a curious name: Quindim. This super popular Brazilian dessert has its origins in Portugal – where sweets are commonly made of a mixture of egg yolks and sugar. The coconut was probably added during the 17th century by the African slaves (this explains the name of the dessert, which comes from the Bantu language). Portugal and some African regions have an enormous influence in Brazilian cuisine – and that is awesome!! 

Often baked in a cupcake pan, my Quindim is a recipe that I got from my mom and, technically, it should be called Quindão because it is baked in a large dish and served in slices.

Well, whatever you call it or wherever it comes from, one thing is for sure: this is delicious and easy to make! If you look at the picture closely, you will notice that there is a crust on the bottom of the custard. The great surprise is that the crust forms naturally on the bottom (or actually on the top, but it becomes bottom once the dessert is flipped). This crust adds an extra layer of texture without any added work! So we are talking about a 5 ingredients delight that all the effort that it takes is to place all ingredients in the blender, and then in the oven. Voila! Easy like that. Serve small slices, since this is a fairly rich dessert. Enjoy!

Add a comment

Read more: Quindim (Quindão)

Brigadeiro (Brazilian Chocolate Truffle)

brigadeiros-brazilian-truffle-bonbon-foodgawker

Brigadeiro is the name given to the traditional Brazilian chocolate truffle, or bonbon. It is probably the most common sweet treat on birthday parties in Brazil, and it is a favorite among kids and adults! Decadent and creamy, this super-easy-to-make chocolate dessert seems like a perfect Valentine’s Day treat. 

To give it a “Valentine’s Day look”, I rolled the balls in sprinkles that came in the valentines colors: pink, red and white. They turned out super cute! 

If you want to impress your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, without much effort at all you can make this bonbon and enjoy the extra kisses you will get later ;)

Add a comment

Read more: Brigadeiro (Brazilian Chocolate Truffle)

Avocado Brigadeiros (Brigadeiro de Abacate)

avocado-ball-brigadeiro-brazil

Rich and sweet with a hint of lime, my Avocado Brigadeiros are super simple to make and definitely a crowd pleaser! The famous Brazilian chocolate bonbons called Brigadeiros were the sweets that inspired me to make this avocado version. Guess what else served as an inspiration for me? The Incredible Hulk – yes, he did! I know there is nothing sweet about Hulk’s personality, but my son really wanted a superhero party for his 4th birthday this year, so I created several different kinds of flavored Brigadeiros to go with the party theme. Of course that somehow the Incredible Hulk Brigadeiro would HAVE to be green! That’s how my delicious Avocado Brigadeiro was born! Kids and adults loved it, and my husband even said it was his favorite out all the other flavors I made!! Now, if you look at the picture above, you can definitely notice that its looks are classy enough to go with any party, and not necessary with just a crazy kid's party. So make it for your next event, but be sure to eat in no longer than 48 hours after the preparation time. Enjoy!

Add a comment

Read more: Avocado Brigadeiros (Brigadeiro de Abacate)

Pumpkin Flan

pumpking-flan-coconut-flakes-foodgawker

Pumpkin is a very popular ingredient in cakes and pies, but not many people know how wonderful it tastes when added to a flan. In Brazil, pumpkin flan is just yet another variation of a classic dessert. I like to think that anything goes well when mixed with a classic flan recipe, so it could not be any different for this one. Creamy, sweet, with a hint of cinnamon, this Brazilian dessert is a must try for pumpkin lovers. Serve with freshly shaved coconut flakes on top, adding a twist on this delicious and unusual fall recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Add a comment

Read more: Pumpkin Flan

Triple Berry Pie (Torta Bombom de Morango, Framboesa e Mirtilo)

triple-berry-torta-morango-custard-chocolate

Inspired by the Brazilian strawberry-chocolate bonbon, which has a layer of custard surrounding the fruit before it is dipped in the chocolate; my Triple Berry Pie is a deconstructed bonbon with rich home-made custard on the bottom, decadent chocolate ganache in the center and fresh mixed berries on top. It is crunchy, creamy and fresh. In Brazil we rarely have blueberries and raspberries available, but the very American triple berry combination is fantastic over the custard and ganache! Also, I have to mention that I created this pie especially for my husband’s uncle (Uncle Steve Miller) who is crazy about desserts with chocolate! His reaction after his first bite was awesome: he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and released a long “Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!” as if he had suddenly tasted a little piece of heaven. So after that kind of reaction, I thought I should share this recipe with all of you!

Add a comment

Read more: Triple Berry Pie (Torta Bombom de Morango, Framboesa e Mirtilo)

Pecan Flan

pecan-flan-pudim-de-nozes-foodgawker

I took a break of almost four weeks from creating and posting recipes to work exclusively on the final steps of my cookbook. I have to confess that I really missed cooking and I could not wait to share my next recipe with you. Since I am currently in Brazil (I traveled here to mainly shoot the cover of my book) I thought I should share a recipe from my childhood. This dessert brings me back the memories of the days I used to spend in company of my good friend Geo, whose mom makes the best Pecan Flan in the world! Smooth just like a regular flan, this recipe has a little surprise: the chopped pecans form a slightly crunchy crust on the bottom. How? It happens naturally: the pecans tend to float towards the top during baking time; and when the flan is unmolded, they end up at the bottom forming a crust. This flan is one of the best desserts I have ever had growing up and I want to thank Geo and Tia Mara for sharing this delight with me, so I could share with you. Enjoy with your family and friends. 

Add a comment

Read more: Pecan Flan

Avocado and Candied Cashew Pie

avocado-cashew-pie

This unique combination is worth trying! In Brazil, avocados are more commonly used in desserts.

Add a comment

Read more: Avocado and Candied Cashew Pie

Passion Fruit Pie (Torta Mousse de Maracujá)

passion-fruit-pie-torta-de-maracuja

Light in texture, with a nice balance between sweetness and tartness, Passion Fruit Pie is a traditional Brazilian recipe, popular all over the country. In Brazil, the word “mousse” is frequently added to the dessert title because the texture of the filling is just as light as a mousse. The dough is very simple to make and it adds a nice crunchy bite to the combination. Sweet, tart, light, fluffy and crunchy, this pie has it all! If you haven’t tried passion fruit in desserts yet, I highly recommend this one. This is passion fruit at its best. Enjoy!

Add a comment

Read more: Passion Fruit Pie (Torta Mousse de Maracujá)

White Chocolate Flan with Peppermint Caramel Sauce (Pudim de Chocolate Branco com Calda de Caramelo e Hortelã)

flan-white-chocolate-peppermint-christmas-holidays-dessert

It is no secret that flan is my favorite dessert. I love all sorts of flavors and variations, and I really wanted to create a recipe using the traditional flavors of the holidays. So after a lot of thought I came up with a recipe for a White Chocolate Flan with Peppermint Sauce, and I am proud to say it turned out exactly how I had dreamed it would: rich, smooth, and with just a touch of peppermint flavor.

This dessert translates all the amazing sweet tastes of Christmas! In fact, it is even more special to me because I was able to add some flavors of the Holidays in the United States to a traditional dessert from my country: Brazil. Merry Christmas friends! Feliz Natal amigos! I hope a slice of my flan brings a smile to your face this holiday season!

Add a comment

Read more: White Chocolate Flan with Peppermint Caramel Sauce (Pudim de Chocolate Branco com Calda de...

Lime Meringue Flan (Pudim de Claras)

flan-lime-meringue-pudim-de-claras

I grew up eating this delightful dessert: my mom used to make it a lot when I was a little girl growing up in Brazil. For me, this dessert tastes just like my childhood: sweet, with a hint of lime zest (to make it more exciting), and extremely light in texture! One more awesome thing: it has only 4 ingredients (and they can all be found at your regular grocery store - yeah!!! This time, I am not sending you to international markets to find ingredients). I made this family recipe for a small gathering with friends at my house, and they sure enjoyed it! I hope you enjoy it too!

Add a comment

Read more: Lime Meringue Flan (Pudim de Claras)

Dulce de Leche and Coconut Layer Cake

dulce-de-leche-coconut-custard-layer-cake

This “white canvas” cake has decadent layers of dulce de leche and coconut custard. The meringue that gives it an all white look is flavored with fresh lime and it breaks the richness of the fillings beautifully. The other great thing about it is that it can be decorated to fit any party theme! Check out the pictures of the cute party for my son’s third birthday and how easily this cake became a “construction site” cake! It was so much fun!

Add a comment

Read more: Dulce de Leche and Coconut Layer Cake

Cheesecake with Guava Sauce

cheesecake-ricotta-guava

Guava and cheese is a traditional combination in Brazilian desserts, and cheesecake is an American staple. So this “marriage” of flavors works, again, very well for this American-Brazilian recipe! The slightly tangy flavor of the sauce compliments the richness of the cake. I hope you enjoy!

Add a comment

Read more: Cheesecake with Guava Sauce

Tres Leches Cake with Berries and Cream

tres-leches-cake-berries

Tres Leches is a very popular cake recipe in Mexico and Central America. Very light in texture, this deliciously moist cake received its name because it is soaked overnight in three milks (tres leches): heavy cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. My version has freshly made cream top and berries soaked in orange liquor. Irresistible!

Add a comment

Read more: Tres Leches Cake with Berries and Cream