August 21, 2016

Beijinho & Brigadeiro

The 2016 Summer Olympics conclude today in Rio so here's my final homage to the games and host country.  I had heard of the popular Brazilian candy brigadeiro, a chocolate fudge ball most associated with birthday parties, but when I mentioned I was thinking of making them my Brazilian colleague Marcelo said his favorite sweet was actually the beijinho.  Beijinho?  What the heck was that?  Beijinho in Portuguese means "little kiss" and these treats are similar to brigadeiro but made with coconut instead of chocolate.  

Both candies start with a base of sweetened condensed milk and butter.  Chocolate or coconut is stirred in and the entire thing is cooked over the stove.  You stir constantly until the mixture gets very thick and viscous.  Once cooled, the candy is formed in to bite-sized balls and rolled in sprinkles or coconut.  

Given my aversion to anything overly sweet I was a bit hesitant about candy made with condensed milk.  To my delight I found both versions had just the right amount of sweetness.  I must say that I agree with Marcelo and prefer the beijinho, but that's mainly because I pretty much love anything coconut.  The one tip I would offer is to cook the candy mixture until it's super thick.  With my brigadeiro I think they definitely could have benefited from a few more minutes on the stove to ensure a harder consistency when cooled.   But no worries, it still tasted delicious!


August 9, 2016

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

Are you watching the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio?  Me too and it inspired me to bake something Brazilian.  So I present to you this cheese bread, Pão de Queijo.  I first tasted these delicious savories at a churrascaria, or Brazilian steak house.  While very similar to the French gougères, the main difference is that the pão de queijo are 100% gluten-free! 

I found this recipe on and tweaked it only slightly.  Tapioca flour is used in place of wheat flour which makes them perfect for anyone with a gluten intolerance.  You can easily find tapioca flour (sometimes called tapioca starch) at any Asian market for next to nothing.  

The dough is essentially a pâte à choux - milk and butter heated together in a saucepan, flour is mixed in and finally eggs are added.  It takes no time at all to make and the crunchy exterior and chewy interior of the cheesy puffs will have you making them again and again.  Make a big batch for your next Olympics viewing party! 

August 5, 2016

Foolproof New York Cheesecake with Raspberries

A few of my co-workers ran the San Francisco marathon last month and to celebrate that tremendous accomplishment I offered to bring in a treat for the office.  One of the runners requested New York Cheesecake and I was more than happy to oblige, especially when I had a few blocks of cream cheese already in my fridge.   

I turned to my friends at Cook's Illustrated for their foolproof recipe and, as usual, it worked like a dream.  Unlike most cheesecake recipes, this one guarantees that you won't have any unsightly cracks on the surface of the baked cake.  I decided to top my cheesecake with fresh fruit, but trust me when I say that underneath those spirals of juicy raspberries there is not a fissure to be found.