Walnut “Cameo” Bonbon

Walnut “Cameo” Bonbon

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ & Pinterest. Cameo is an oval-shaped gemstone with a head image carved on it, an ancient carving technique and also a Brazilian bonbon known as camafeu in Portuguese. Made with a rich walnut paste and enrobed in a fine shell of sugary fondant, this Brazilian sweet indeed resembles the jewlery, it has an oval shape and two contrasting colours: the white of the fondant and the golden of the walnut that garnishes the top. This beauty effect multiplies when all the sweets are arranged on a elegant tray and served on a special occasion like Christmas. This little Brazilian gem is glamorous but so easy to prepare, no cooking or baking required. Just mixing, rolling, shaping, covering and eating! Thanks once again to my gorgeous sister-in-law Lisi for the amazing recipe and helpful hints. This is the best Cameo recipe I’ve ever tried!   It’s nearly Christmas,  the end of 2015 is approaching and a lot of people around the world have hopes for the New Year, which is highly anticipated with wishes of luck, love, happiness and a better life. The concept of a good life however raises many questions like what is the meaning of life, what constitutes a good life? Are the answers simple or complex? The adopted son of the great Luiz Gonzaga (known as the “king of Baiao” musical rhythm), the Brazilian singer/song-writter the late Gonzaguinha wrote a song with questions and answers about life from the perspective of different people. The questions begin right in the title of the song which is called in English “What is it? What is it?”. The song lyrics start...
Peanut and Chocolate Bon-Bon (Cajuzinho)

Peanut and Chocolate Bon-Bon (Cajuzinho)

Peanut is another precious produce that was a gift from South America to the world. Many people don’t know that peanut is not a nut, but actually a member of the pulse family. Despite the fact that the name cajuzinho translates as ‘little cashew’, there is no cashew on the recipe! With more than 100 years old, the ancient cajuzinho is a bite-sized sweet that used to be served in dinner parties as part of a dessert and sweets buffet of Brazilian farm houses. In its old recipe, cajuzinho used to be made with peanuts, grated chocolate, sugar and beaten egg whites (or water). and then rolled into mini cashew apple shapes. In some modern recipes sugar and egg whites are replaced by sweetened condensed milk, but some of the purist cooks still prefer to stick to the original recipe. In the 80s, along with cajuzinho, brigadeiro and beijinho were the main sweets served in kids’ parties. Even though it is incredibly delicious, interestingly cajuzinho was a bit underrated by the kids and adults alike, who always preferred the other two. I don’t know the reason, but my guess is that cajuzinho was probably not as popular because it is made with peanuts, which are used to make many types of commercial sweets easily found in supermarkets in Brazil. Even so that these days cajuzinho is nearing extinction from kids’ parties and being replaced by other sweets like gourmet brigadeiros and cupcakes. If you are a fan of peanuts, this is the sweet for you. Differently from brigadeiro or beijinho, cajuzinho does not require any cooking or stirring (apart from roasting the peanuts). It has only 5 ingredients and very easy to prepare, making it the perfect party sweet. In addition, the shape is original and they look...
Beijinho: Coconut Little Kisses

Beijinho: Coconut Little Kisses

Along with the chocolate Brigadeiro (see recipe here), Beijinho is another kids’ party favourite in Brazil. Well, what can go wrong with a mixture of condensed milk and coconut? The clove in the middle not only makes a cute garnish but also complements  the coconut flavour. The yummy and sticky Beijinho sometimes can even win over Brigadeiro and be first one to disappear from a party’s table. The meaning of the name Beijinho is as lovely as the sweet itself  and translates as little kisses. Records from old recipe notebooks show that for more than one century the term has been used by Brazilian housewives to name bite-sized sweets made with coconut. Easy to make and a pleasure to eat, this little delight is a great idea for a high tea or kids’ party, dessert or to be eaten as a sweet treat any time of the day.  Ingredients  1 can sweetened condensed milk 1 cup desiccated coconut 100 g raw sugar 20 cloves Unsalted butter, to grease 20 petit paper cases  Instructions  1. In a small saucepan, pour condensed milk and coconut and cook over medium-low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon for about 18-20 minutes or until the mixture starts to come off the pan. Continue stirring vigorously for a further 2 minutes. 2. Transfer the paste to a small baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until cool. 3. Remove it from the fridge and start working immediately. Grease your hands with a little butter and scoop the paste with a teaspoon. Roll into a ball and throw in  the sugar to coat. Place...
Brigadeiro: Brazilian Chocolate Caramel

Brigadeiro: Brazilian Chocolate Caramel

Brigadeiro or ‘Blackie’ is a sticky soft chocolate bon-bon, which can be described as a hybrid of truffle, caramel and fudge. The recipe is very easy, just made by cooking condensed milk and cocoa powder (some recipes have butter and egg yolk as well) for a few minutes to obtain a thick paste. After the paste is  cooled down, it is rolled into little balls which are then covered in chocolate sprinkles. It is kid’s party must have and one of the favourites with the little ones. It is so funny to go to parties and see kids putting more than one Brigadeiro in their mouths and with their little faces and hands covered in chocolate. I love the stories on how Brazil’s classic recipes are named, and the name Brigadeiro, in particular, is a very interesting one. Legend says that a good-looking Brigadier called Eduardo Gomes who was a candidate for Brazil’s presidency in the 40s ad 50s quickly built up a large female-fan base who threw him a candidacy party and created a chocolate sweet in his tribute. The sweet became so popular that these women started to cook them regularly with the intent to raise funds for Eduardo’s campaign. So the Brigadeiro sweet was born. In the past, the recipe was slightly different and the bon-bon was made with a mixture of chocolate, sugar, milk and eggs. There is also the white version, called Brigadeiro Branco, which simply omits the cocoa and it’s covered in white chocolate sprinkles. Brigadeiros are so popular in Brazil that in recent years specialised shops were established to sell all versions of white...
Strawberry Bon-Bon

Strawberry Bon-Bon

I learnt how to make this bon-bon when I was about 10 years old when an auntie of mine, knowing that I loved to cook, invited me to join her to do a course to unveil the secrets on how to make Brazilian sweets. Until I actually saw how to make it I thought this sweet was something that only an experienced professional could make. But they are not that difficult. It is just a matter of following a few little tips and most likely you will get it right. The strawberry bon-bon is just one of the thousand kinds of bite-sized sweets that we love to eat. Specially made for birthday parties, weddings and anniversaries, the bon-bons can be made with fresh fruits (such as strawberries and grapes), dried fruits or nuts. Then they are often covered with a layer of condensed milk and then enrobed with some type of chocolate, icing or marzipan. In Brazil, there are lots of women who have small home-based business and are specialised in making savoury and sweet fingerfoods for parties and they play a big role in Brazil’s food culture. As they are made in large quantities, these little treats are very time consuming to make and require years of experience, love, and a good dose of patience to obtain even results. These women show a lot of creativity when making the sweets in special and they are considered an art form. The top layer can be decorated like cupcakes with different colours, patterns, shapes and textures, using many different pastry techniques. In addition to that, these days it is possible to find in...