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

Grilled Heirloom Tomato Pizza

heirloom-tomato-pizza-basil-fresh-mozzarella

This is the tomatoes lover pizza! Yes, I love tomatoes especially heirloom tomatoes that are so juicy and flavorful!

Add a comment

Read more: Grilled Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Moroccan Couscous with Dried Fruits and Nuts

couscous-apricots-marrocan-almonds-prunes-raisins-cashews

After you plate it, you can drizzle with honey. It will be a little sweeter, and a little more divine!

Add a comment

Read more: Moroccan Couscous with Dried Fruits and Nuts

Rustic Porcini Risotto

risotto-porcini-mushrooms-portabella

Don't be fooled by the rustic appearence of this dish. This risotto is very elegant and fragrant. It's perfect for a small gathering around the stove.

Add a comment

Read more: Rustic Porcini Risotto

White Lasagna with Mixed Mushrooms

lasagna_white_sauce_mushrooms_mixed

I love making this lasagna recipe when I throw large parties because it can be made in advance, so I can enjoy the festivities! The other reason why it is a great recipe to serve at large gatherings is that it is a vegetarian dish with a meaty and fullfilling texture (thanks to mushrooms and rich flavored cheeses). This is an old recipe that I have been making for about 18 years. Enjoy with great friends and good wine!

Add a comment

Read more: White Lasagna with Mixed Mushrooms

Cynthia’s Special White Sauce

white_sauce_best_ever_cynthia_presser_csws

This is my classic, gluten-free white sauce recipe! I like to add this amazing white sauce to some classic dishes and when a recipe calls for béchamel, I usually substitute for my own white sauce which I consider way tastier. It takes more time to cook if compared to a béchamel, but the wait is very much worth it! It is perfect over vegetables, especially cauliflower, potatoes, and asparagus; and over other dishes like lasagna noodles, sautéed chicken, baked fish and so many more. Try adding fresh herbs, like scallions and parsley. It is a simple, versatile recipe with just 5 ingredients, but the secret is to slow cook the half and half to develop the flavors. So you might be thinking : "What is it so special about this white sauce?" I guess you will find out after you try ;)

Add a comment

Read more: Cynthia’s Special White Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower with White Sauce

roasted_cauliflower_white_sauce

Delicious and rich, my decadent and simple Roasted Cauliflower with White Sauce is so good you might "promote" it to main course. Enjoy! 

Add a comment

Read more: Roasted Cauliflower with White Sauce

Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Cup (Brigadeiro de Copinho)

brigadeiro-no-copinho-chocolate-mousse-pudding-3

In the past few years, our beloved Brazilian chocolate fudge balls, the famous Brigadeiro, has gotten a new version! This has happened recently, and I got to know about it during one of my visits there, and honestly, this is quite a genius!

Brigadeiro is an extremely popular Brazilian bonbon. Delicious, creamy, irresistible, decadent – I could keep going with more adjectives here – this famed dessert is also very easy to make! But there is a trick: rolling the mixture into little balls can take a long time. So, I guess to make the process faster – and possibly to jazz up the presentation – somebody had the idea of pouring the mixture into small dessert cups and serve it with a spoon. It looks like a mousse and it has the texture of soft fudge. And it is just as irresistible as the original version.

Cover the top with chocolate sprinkles (I like to buy the real chocolate sprinkles, not the fake sugary versions), or sprinkle with other delicious things: nuts, coconut flakes, or anything that you like to combine with chocolate (bacon?). Adults and kids will love it!

Add a comment

Read more: Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Cup (Brigadeiro de Copinho)

Strawberry Mousse Pie (Torta Mousse de Morango)

strawberry-mousse-pie-torta-de-morango-4

We are having an unusually colder beginning of Spring down here in Florida and, as I notice plenty of people praising this weird weather, I find myself on the opposite side: all I am craving are those regular warmer days! Guess what gives me hope? Florida strawberries! And yes, I am having a lot of fun with our early strawberry season. 

Last week, I made those scrumptious Strawberry Bonbons and they were rich, creamy, and so delightful… Just like the flavors of my childhood in Brazil. So, this week, I wanted to have a lighter dessert, and my Strawberry Mousse Pie sounded like the perfect choice!

This pie has an incredible fluffy filling with a very good balance of sweetness and tartness. The sauce on top is like a strawberry explosion, with just the right amount of chunkiness. The crust is right up my alley: a ridiculously easy Graham cracker base that gives the perfect crunchy texture that this pie needs. 

All that I can think of at the moment are warmer Spring days spent by the pool. A slice of my Strawberry Mousse Pie and a glass of Prosecco to bring the word perfection to my daydream. I hope you enjoy!

Add a comment

Read more: Strawberry Mousse Pie (Torta Mousse de Morango)

Strawberry Bonbon (Bombom de Morango)

strawberry-bonbon-bombom-morango-new

Strawberry season is upon us, and to celebrate one of the most beloved fruits in the culinary world, I want to share one of my favorite sweet recipes of all times.

Strawberry Bonbon (or Bombom de Morango, in Portuguese) is the Brazilian “improved” version of a simple chocolate dipped strawberry. In Brazil - especially in the southern part, where strawberries can be more easily found than in the North - we have these bonbons commonly sold at bakeries and pastry shops (called confeitarias, in Portuguese).

So, our “improved” version, receives an extra coat of sweetened condensed milk-based custard around the strawberry, before getting dipped in the chocolate bath. That extra layer adds richness and creaminess to the dessert, which makes it taste sweeter and even more decadent. Therefore, it does get improved :)

I love this so much! I grew up eating this bonbon at birthday parties (but they would be served only at fancy parties, due to the price of the fruit that could get expensive), and at pastry shops. It was a widely available treat. Well, not in the US… And, once again, I was craving something that I had never tried to make.

I looked at several recipes, and the method is simple. The only tricky part was to find out the best way to do the chocolate covering. If I used real chocolate, which would have the best taste, I would have to temper the chocolate… I was not quite sure if I was willing to endure such a fussy method. So, I skipped that. After doing some tests, I chose Baker’s dark chocolate dipping as the winning method – it was easy to use, it tasted great, and the bonbons looked smooth and glossy!

This Brazilian strawberry dessert proves that the extra sweet cream coat takes this traditional treat to the next level! I wish everyone a delicious strawberry season!!

Add a comment

Read more: Strawberry Bonbon (Bombom de Morango)

Coconut Frapê Cake (Bolo Frapê da Tia Dorian)

bolo-frape-foodgawker-1

Fall has just started and, although it barely feels like fall in Florida, our brains have that shift of mood and we begin to crave comfort foods. This is the season to get cozy with family and friends, and everything remind us of that feeling of togetherness. It is so nice!

I learned to love fall once I moved to the US, since in Brazil we don’t truly have all the four seasons. For me, fall sometimes makes me miss my family in Brazil even more. It also makes me crave the sensations and flavors that I experienced with them growing up.

Add a comment

Read more: Coconut Frapê Cake (Bolo Frapê da Tia Dorian)

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)