Sweets, the Brazilian Way

    According to Yahoo! Brasil, the Brazilian creme de leite
    craze
    is catching on outside of Brazil too. In 2001, the quantity
    exported was a little over 271 kilos. In 2002, the number
    went up to over 65.7
    tons! Now, that is a substantial
    increase! If you bought stock, you are lucky.

    by:
    Monica
    Trentini

     

    We all crane our necks when the dessert cart goes by at the restaurants… What yummy desserts will they have this
    time? In Brazil, usually it is more of the same. They have
    pudim, torta de limão, creme de papaya com licor de
    cassis, and other cakes and pies. If you are at a fancier restaurant, they might have a
    maracujá mousse or a chocolate truffle.

    When you read my recipes below, you will see that some of these do not call for exact measurements. You will need
    to experiment to find out what you like best. When I arrived in Brazil, I was surprised to read recipes that called for a full
    spoonful of something or a shallow plate full of something else. I was so attached to my measuring cups and spoons! My mother
    is a stickler for exact measurement, and having learned from her, I had to re-think my cooking attitudes.

    All of these desserts call for leite condensado
    (condensed milk) and some of them call for creme de
    leite. These two ingredients are essential for cooking in Brazil. When I called my Brazilian "mother" for information about recipes, she
    sadly told me she would have to hunt for them. Due to health reasons, she has opted to cook without these ingredients. They
    are both highly caloric.

    There is fresh creme de leite that comes in a bottle, with a shorter shelf life and the canned and boxed
    creme de leite can be stored in your pantry. They are both made with animal fat. Now, there are lower calorie choices at the supermarket
    (the "light" variety) and vegetable-based
    creme de leite (creme vegetal) is sold as lighter as it does not contain cholesterol,
    whereas the canned or boxed creme de leite has quite a bit.

    The vegetable-based creme de leite is made of shortening and whole powdered milk
    (leite em pó integral). This seems very strange to me, but it’s true. In a nutshell, the difference is similar to that of butter and margarine. But the question
    of how healthy these two are or are not is yours to decide.

    Regardless, my Brazilian "mother" (Maria Lúcia) was quick to come up with ideas. She claims that Brazilians use
    these ingredients for everything, even béchamel sauce. I have not found a recipe for this, so we will just have to take her word
    for it. She thinks that creme de leite is wonderful to make salad dressings. I make sour cream by mixing a can of
    creme de leite and a container of plain yogurt and use this as a base for my creamy salad dressings. Try mixing some with crumbled
    Roquefort cheese to make a "blue cheese" style dressing. Delicious!

    Maria Lúcia also recommended I speak to Maria Antônia, who is a friend of hers who uses both of these ingredients
    to a fault. Maria Antônia claims that everything she knows everyone else knows and that she is no great chef. Well, she
    makes pudim in the microwave! That’s a feat. No hassle with the par boiling, and in 12 minutes on high and a few hours in
    the freezer she has a dessert ready for lunch. She also told me her secret for whipped cream, and she makes many gelatin
    desserts. She says the fresh creme de leite
    is much more delicious than the canned. She also says she only uses the canned. Go figure.

    My article could just be about her, but I will stop here. Note: I made the
    pudim in the microwave, and as long as you
    don’t mind eating it off the walls of the microwave, it is delicious. I guess I should have used a much larger pan. Trying a
    second time, with an improvised large Pyrex bowl with a glass cup in the middle, the recipe worked like a charm. There must be
    a science to the middle piece.

    Creme de leite whips up nicely on its own to make
    chantilly. Be careful not to over whip it, as the canned variety
    will turn into butter. We "made" butter by passing and shaking a jar of it when I was teaching third grade at Graded. The
    kids loved that experiment.

    According to Yahoo! Brasil, the creme de leite
    craze is catching on outside of Brazil too. In 2001, the quantity
    exported was a little over 271 kilos. In 2002, the number went up to over 65.7 tons! Now, that is a substantial increase! If you
    bought stock, you are lucky.

    All Kinds
    of Cremes

    If you would like to buy vegetable-based creme de
    leite, there are many brands to choose from. They would be in
    the refrigerated section of the market and they come in liter and half liter bottles, or liter sacks. I spoke to two suppliers of
    vegetable-based creme de leite in São Paulo. At Camargo’s, João Morais (tel.: 9762-4918 / 7391-4812) said you can call him to
    find out where you can purchase Camargo’s brand
    creme de leite. At Creme Jundiaí, Paulo said he supplies Wal Mart and
    Sam’s Club and many bakeries re-sell his creme de leite
    (including Casablanca near Graded on Giovanni.) Both sang the
    praises of this type of creme de leite. I guess the proof would be in the pudding. Ha. Ha.

    Condensed milk is the main ingredient of all the
    docinhos (little sweets) you get at Brazilian birthday parties.
    Condensed milk is the base for doce de
    leite. If you were to boil an unopened can of it in the pressure cooker for an hour, or just in
    a regular pan for 4, you would get doce de
    leite. My brother’s Brazilian girlfriend, Marina, recommends you make your
    doce de leite while you cook beans in your pressure cooker.

    This saves time and energy, she says. If you try this at home, it is at your own risk! I truly do not recommend anyone
    without experience use a pressure cooker. Someone told me a story about the top hitting the ceiling once. Don’t call me if this
    happens to you. You were warned.

    According to my business partner, Ruth Barreiros, if you have a cow at your disposal, fresh
    doce de leite is the way to go. Just mix 1 kilo of sugar for every 4 liters of fresh cow’s milk and boil ad nauseam, and you’ll have the best
    doce de leite you have ever tasted. One of my Brazilian recipe
    books—Dona Benta: Comer Bem—recommends placing a small bowl
    in with the milk as you boil it to make doce de
    leite. They say this keeps it from boiling over.

    Our babysitter’s face lit up when I told her about the article. She said she has the secret recipe for a famous
    store-bought chocolate pudding. I must say my face lit up when I tasted this pudding. I’ve never touched the store-bought stuff and
    never will…
     

    Useful Information about vegetable-based creme de leite
    (Jundiaí or Camargo’s brand) and canned and boxed and
    fresh creme de leite:

    Will keep 30 days in the refrigerator, at 1°C., (Cans and boxes keep until opened.)

    May not be frozen,

    May be used to make salty and sweet dishes,

    As chantilly, may be used to fill or ice cakes, and to add to sweet desserts, or coffee,

    Comes ready to add to salty dishes like: quiches, pastas, salad dressings

    Great for preparing mousse,

    May be prepared with sugar or sweetener,

    Does not contain cholesterol, (Canned and boxed
    creme de leite does contain cholesterol.)

    Try to use the whole package at a time. (Place unused portion of cans and boxes in a separate container and save up to 2 days.)

    For chantilly, beat on high for approximately 5 minutes or until peaks are formed. Will not become butter. (Canned and
    boxed creme de leite does become butter if beaten too much.)

    Mixes well with citrus such as lemon, orange and pineapple,

    Mixes well with chocolate and gelatin,

    If adding flavor to your whipped cream, first whip and then add flavoring towards the end.

    On hot days, place the creme de leite and your beaters in the freezer for a few minutes (do not allow to freeze). This will
    make it whip faster.
     

    What is creme de leite? Way back when, ladies would churn cream into butter.
    Creme de leite is that cream, one step
    before it becomes butter.

    What is leite condensado? Condensed milk is milk with the water content reduced 60 percent and sugar is added.
     

    Recipes:

    Pudim

    1 can of condensed milk

    1 can of milk

    1-3 eggs

    1/3 C. sugar

    Blend condensed milk, milk and eggs. Burn the sugar over a flame in the bottom of the bundt pan. When the sugar is
    caramel color, and a little cool, pour the mixture from the blender into the pan. Par boil for an hour, or until a knife comes out
    clean. Refrigerate. Unmold before serving.

    Maria Antônia’s Pudim in the Microwave

    1 can condensed milk

    2 cans of milk

    1t. Maizena corn starch (she said a shallow spoonful)

    3-4 eggs (3 large or 4 small, she says)

    Blend condensed milk, milk, eggs and corn starch. Burn the sugar over a flame in the bottom of a pan. Transfer
    to microwaveable bundt pan (glass would be my choice) When the sugar has cooled a little, pour the mixture from the
    blender into the pan. Microwave on high for 12 minutes. Transfer to the freezer or refrigerator to cool. Unmold before serving.

    Maria Antônia’s Chantilly

    Beat 2 egg whites. Add 4 T. sugar. Beat. Fold in a can of
    creme de leite.

    Maria Antônia’s Gelatin Desserts

    Make three or four different types of Jello. Cut in squares. Make a fourth color, adding 1 cup boiling water and 1
    can creme de leite. Allow to cool a little. Toss with Jello squares. Refrigerate.

    Cut up an entire pineapple, adding 6 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar. Boil. Add 3 packages pineapple gelatin. Let
    sit to cool. Mix in a can of creme de leite. Refrigerate.

    Lemon Pie (Torta de Limão)

    Make a "graham cracker" crust with 1 C. crushed or blended
    biscoitos Maria 2T. sugar, and 1/3 C. of butter and line
    the bottom of the pie plate. (cut out pie crust recipe)

    Pie-Filling

    1st layer

    1 can condensed milk

    ¼ C. lime juice (add more if you prefer)

    Beat well.

    Pour onto crust.

    2nd layer

    2 egg whites

    2 T. sugar

    Beat until peaks form.

    Smooth over 1st layer.

    Bake until golden on top.

    Creme de Papaya

    1 can creme de leite

    1 can leite condensado

    1 mamão papaya

    2 leaves of unflavored gelatin melted in ½ C. boiling water (Not a necessary ingredient. Add this if you want a firmer dessert.)

    Beat and refrigerate. Sometime we freeze this for an ice-cream type dessert.

    This basic recipe can be altered. If you want mousse, replace the
    creme de leite with 3 or 4 beaten egg whites. Fold
    them in at the end and refrigerate.

    You may replace the mamão with
    maracujá juice to make creme de maracujá
    or mousse de maracujá _ (Choose 5
    heavy maracujás. Blend with a cup of water and strain to make juice. Reserve some seeds for decoration and to add a crunch),
    a bottle of leite de coco (coconut milk) to make
    creme de coco or mousse de coco, or lime juice to make
    creme de limão or mousse de
    limão. I like to serve these deserts with tea cookies
    (biscoitos amanteigados). The store bought kind. Really.

    Chocolate Truffle (From the makers of
    creme Jundiaí)

    250 g. creme Jundiai

    2 T. Cognac

    500 g. Bittersweet Chocolate

    Powdered Chocolate

    On the stove-top, mix the creme Jundiaí and the cognac. Mix until it boils. Turn off the flame and add the chocolate
    pieces. Mix well until dissolved. Refrigerate overnight. Make small balls and refrigerate them for ½ hour. Roll in powdered
    chocolate and place back in the refrigerator to dry.

    Tatiana’s Famous Chocolate Pudding

    1 egg yolk (put through the strainer)

    1 liter of milk

    1 can of condensed milk

    1 can of creme de leite

    Powdered Chocolate

    Corn Starch (Maizena)

    Place the egg yolk, the milk, the condensed milk and the chocolate in a pan and mix well. Dissolve 3 T. of
    cornstarch in some milk and add to the pan. Bring to a boil, always mixing. Add more corn starch as needed to thicken it as you
    like. Let rest a little. Beat this with a can of
    creme de leite. Refrigerate before serving.

     

    Monica O’Day Trentini was born in the
    US but raised in Brazil. She attended American Schools and eventually went
    to The University of Virginia, where she graduated with a Master’s in
    Teaching. She married a Brazilian and moved to São Paulo. She left
    teaching to raise her children and started a business making and selling
    home-made cookie dough and baked cookies to people. She delivers cookies
    in São Paulo, but orders have come from as far as Arizona! She currently
    has her articles published at
    www.gringoes.com
    and in The Flash, a printed newsletter for The
    International Newcomers’ Club in São Paulo. Monica’s e-mail is
    cookiedoughtogo@yahoo.com,
    and she welcomes your responses to her articles, as well as your cookie
    orders!

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