It’s the end of the holiday season and I feel nostalgic firstly because I am far away from Brazil and Christmas celebration is so special and vibrant over there. The Christmas Carols of my city Curitiba is one of the events I miss the most and is the highlight of the holiday season. The show has been held in the HSBC building for 25 years. Located right in the heart of the city are part of the tradition of Curitiba and people come from all over the country specially to watch it. Hundreds of people gather to see the spectacle of the disadvantaged children who get their opportunity to shine. Behind the curtains there is a noble charity project that provides support for a total of 400 children like education, music lessons and medical and psychological assistance. More than 100 children aged between 7 and 16 years old are selected to sing and perform from the windows of the astonishing heritage building during the month of December. There are fireworks, candles, bubbles, balloons and plenty of beautiful singing. Every year the show gets bigger and better and there is a different surprise which is highly anticipated by the crowd. Here is a video in case you are curious to see this show.
Christmas lights have now been switched off, decorations are being packed away and 2016 is approaching. To celebrate the New Year, I created this shot inspired by the drink known in Brazil as Batida de Sonho de Valsa made with cachaça and a popular chocolate and cashew nut bonbon called Sonho de Valsa or “waltz dream”. Brazilians love to drink batidinhas as an appetiser. You can also try another little shot recipe I published in the past made with strawberry, guava paste and rosemary.
To accompany this cute drink I added the truffles, which are very easy to make and work as a nice garnish. The truffles are optional and with them the drink becomes a post dessert treat rather than an entrée.
The music choice for the new year is by the singer who I consider one of the greatest musical talents ever: Amy Winehouse. This is her brilliant version of the classic bossa-nova hit “The Girl from Ipanema”. I must say that I never liked any versions of this song in English but what Amy did to the song totally converted me. What a shame she had such a short life, I wonder what she would have done to the world of music if she had lived longer!
Chocolate and Cashew Nut Shots
60g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
200ml thickened cream
1 tbs cocoa powder
2 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
120ml cachaça*, dark rum or vodka
60ml creamy chocolate liqueur or baileys
Handful of ice cubes
50g unsalted roasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
*Available from large liquor stores or online
Chocolate and Cashew Nut Truffles
100g good-quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped
100g dark (bitter-sweet) chocolate, roughly chopped
50ml thickened cream
50g roasted unsalted cashew nuts
1 tbs peanut butter
2 tsp creamy chocolate liqueur or Baileys
Cocoa powder, to dust
Golden luster dust (optional)
Mixer or blender
Star cookie cutter
Mini skewers (optional)
1 little pastry brush for the golden luster dust (optional)
- For the truffles**, combine the chocolates and cream in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan filled with a little bit of simmering water (water bath) making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir with a metal spoon until chocolate has melted and all the ingredients are well combined. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the nuts, peanut butter and chocolate liqueur. Line a medium-sized retangular plastic container with baking paper and pour the mixture, spreading with the bottom of a spoon to make it even (the layer should be about 1cm thick). Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until firm. Remove from fridge and set aside for 10 minutes. Pour some cocoa powder into a bowl. Dust the cookie cutter with a little cocoa and cut the chocolate stars. Place them into the bowl and coat with cocoa. Brush each star with a little luster dust (if desiderd). Using the remaining chocolate make mini balls and thread them onto mini skewers, if desired.
- For the shots, blend well all the ingredients except the ice and cashew nuts. Keep this mixture in the fridge and blend the ice and the cashew nuts just before serving. Leave the nuts coarse so there is a little bit of texture to the drink. You may have to add more ice if the drink gets to thick. Pour into shot glasses to serve. Garnish with stars on rim. Makes approximately 500ml.
**Truffles can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Receita em Português
Batidinha de Chocolate e Castanha de Caju com Trufas (tipo “Sonho de Valsa”)
60g de chocolate ao leite picado
200ml de creme de leite
1 colher de sopa de cacau em pó
2 colheres de sopa de açúcar refinado
1 colher de chá de essência de baunilha
120ml de cachaça
60ml de licor de chocolate ou baileys
Cubos de gelo
50g de castanha de caju torrada e sem sal, picada
Trufa de Chocolate e Castanha de Caju
100g de chocolate ao leite (especial para culinária), picado
100g de chocolate meio amargo (especial para culinária), picado
50ml de creme de leite
50g de castanha de caju torrada e sem sal, picada
1 colher de sopa de manteiga de amendoim (opcional)
2 colheres de chá de licor de chocolate cremoso ou Baileys
Cacau em pó para cobrir
Pó dourado para chocolate (opcional)
Mixer ou liquidificador
Cortador de biscoitos de estrela
Copos para batidinha
1 pincel pequeno para o pó dourado (opcional)
- Para as trufas **, combine os chocolates e creme em uma tigela à prova de calor sobre uma panela com um pouco de água fervente (banho maria) certificando-se a tigela não toque a água. Agite com uma colher metálica até derreter o chocolate e que todos os ingredientes estejam bem misturados. Retire do fogo e deixe esfriar por 5 minutos. Misture as castanhas, manteiga de amendoim (se estiver usando) e licor de chocolate. Coloque papel manteiga em um recipiente de plástico retangular de tamanho médio e despeje a mistura, espalhando com a base de uma colher (a camada deve ser cerca de 1 cm de espessura). Cubra e leve à geladeira por 1 hora ou até firmar. Retire da geladeira e deixe descansar por 10 minutos. Despeje um pouco cacau em pó em uma tigela. Polvilhe a cortador de biscoitos com um pouco de cacau e corte as estrelas de chocolate. Coloque-as na tigela e cubra com o cacau. Pincele cada estrela com um pouco de pó dourado (se desejar). Usando o chocolate que sobrou faça mini trufas e coloque em mini-espetos, se desejar.
- Para a batidinha, misture bem todos os ingredientes, exceto o gelo e castanha. Mantenha esta mistura na geladeira e bata o gelo e as castanhas de caju pouco antes de servir. Não precisa moer completamente a castanha para dar textura à bebida. Você pode ter que adicionar mais gelo se a bebida estiver muito cremosa. Despeje em copinhos de batida para servir. Decore com as estrelas. Rende aproximadamente 500ml.
** As trufas podem ser mantidas em um recipiente hermético na geladeira por até 2 semanas.