- Written by Cynthia Presser
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!
Sonho (Brazilian Beignet)
Yields 35 to 40 units
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 3 ½ teaspoons instant active dried yeast
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Zest of 1 lime
- 4 cups flour
- Cooking spray
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Dulce de leche, guave paste, or Nutella for filling
- Confectioner’ sugar for dusting
To a large mixing bowl, add the milk, dried yeast, and sugar. Mix well.
In a small bowl, mix the eggs and egg yolks.
Add the melted butter, salt, lime zest, and egg mixture to the large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring until incorporated.
Place a dough hook attachment to an electric mixer. Transfer the bowl to mixer and turn on to medium speed. knead the dough until smooth; about 10 minutes. If needed, scrape sides of the bowl periodically so the hook gets all the dough.
Spray three muffin pans with vegetable oil (See Cook’s Note).
Using a medium fruit scoop, get small portions of the dough and roll it in between the palms of your hands, shaping the dough into small balls (about the size of a golf ball). Butter hands if necessary.
Place dough balls on the muffin pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or cloth. Let rise on a warm place for at least one hour.
Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
Deep fry in batches, flipping regularly, until Sonhos turn into a golden-brown color. After fried, remove from pan and transfer to a platter covered with paper towels to drain the oil excess.
Once warm to touch, use a bread knife to cut a slit across the Sonho. Spread a generous portion of the filling of your choice – I used Brazilian dulce de leche (doce de leite).
Transfer Sonhos to a large plate and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.
The use of muffin pans is optional. You can use greased large cooking trays for the rising process, but be sure to leave a couple of inches in between the Sonhos to prevent them to touch each other once they rise.
The dough balls should be shapped into golf-size balls.
Place the shaped dough on the muffin pan and allow to rise for at least one hour.
After rising, the dough should almost double in size.
Fry the Sonhos in oil that is not too hot, otherwise they will be raw in the center. 350 degrees F should be a good reference.
Flip them regularly so they fry evenly.
Once fried, place Sonhos on a platter covered with paper towel.
Once warm enough to touch, cut a slit through the center.
Spread a generous portion of filling - I used dulce de leche!
Close the Sonho. It's almost ready!
Dust with confectioner's sugar and enjoy!