Caramel and Chocolate Torte

 

 

                     ( Torta  de Doce de Leite e Chocolate)

It’s oozing with goodness!

This is a very rich dessert. It is cold, smooth, and silky. Absolutely divine! It is very easy to make but requires a few steps. I recommend to start a day before serving.

Originally, this dessert was made with “Biscoito Maria”, a type of corn starch, and sugar  cookies or “Biscoito Champagne” ( lady finger cookies), but both can be difficult to find,  so I substituted them for chocolate graham crackers, which are widely available at all grocery stores.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate Graham Crackers
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 oz semi-sweet dark chocolate
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sugar

Directions:

  1. To  make milk caramel, place condensed milk inside a digital pressure cooker, cover the can with water, and close the top. Set it for canning and let it cook until the pressure is completely out. If using a regular pressure cooker, let pressure build at high heat. Once the pressure builds, turn heat to low and let it cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it cook until the pressure is completely out. If you do not have a pressure cooker, fill a pot with water and let the can cook for 30 minutes. Keep hot water handy in case you need to add hot water. Do not let the water dry out because the can will explode; stay close to the pot. In all the cases, make sure there is enough water to cover the can. Once cooked, remove the can from the hot water and let it cool.
  2. While the can is cooking, pre-heat the oven to 350F. Place one and a half packets of chocolate crackers in a food processor to make crumbles. Place the crumbles in a bowl and add melted butter; mix them with a fork. Press this mixture inside a removable tart ring with the help of a spoon and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, whip heavy cream and set it in the refrigerator.
  4. Melt chocolate in a water bath. Once melted, add half and half and stir until a silky chocolate cream is formed. Set aside.
  5. Remove cream from the refrigerator and divide it in half. Place one half back in fridge and add the sugar to the other half by folding it gently with a fork to preserve the air pockets. Add melted chocolate to the cream and gently  mix to preserve air pockets. Place it in fridge.
  6. When the can of condensed milk is cooled, open and fold the milk caramel with the other whipped cream and sugar that was resting in fridge. Whisk gently until a creamy silky mixture is formed. Place this mixture back in the fridge.
  7. Both the chocolate cream and the milk caramel cream should be left in fridge for at least 2 hours to firm.
  8. Once both creams are firm, spread the milk caramel over the crust of chocolate crackers. Break the rest of the chocolate crackers into small pieces and cover the caramel mixture with the broken pieces. Then, spread the chocolate cream on top.
  9. Place the tart mold on a plate, and cover it with another plate. Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  10.  Before serving, remove the torte from the freezer and let it stand for 5 minutes. Turn the plates over to remove the tart ring and …voila! It is ready! Wait another 5 minutes before cutting.

*Store in refrigerator. The freezer was only to help remove dessert from tart ring.

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Pita Bread

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Pao Arabe

Pita Bread is so easy to make, the perfect pair for Hummus! The warm and rich flavor of the Arab cuisine that reached Portugal and Brazil.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 tea-spoon salt
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 table-spoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tea-spoon dry yeast

Directions:

  1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Dissolve yeast in water and add olive oil.
  3. Make a hole in center of flour and add yeast mixture, then slowly knead mixture to make a soft dough.
  4. Turn dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place it back in the bowl, brush top with a little extra olive oil, cover with a plastic wrap and set aside, in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
  6. Punch dough, place it on a lightly floured surface and divide it in 6 balls.
  7. Roll each ball in to a circle or oval shape about 1/3 inch thick. Brush each one with a little more olive oil, cover them back and let them rest for 30 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, pre heat oven to 400F. Place 3 pita circles on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. You will need to pans or bake in batches.
  9. Bake for 6 minutes or until they puff up and are golden brown.

So Yummy!

Hummus

 

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Garbanzo Bean Dip

Hummus comes from the Arabic word meaning “chickpeas”

Believe it or not but Brazil is home of one of the best hummus you can find. The History of Brazil and Syrian/Lebanese immigration go as far as the Ottoman Empire when  Arabs conquered Portugal and became new Christians “Moors”. During the colonization of Brazil many of the colonists were the new christians and they brought with them to Brazil, their culture. The influence of the Moorish in Brazilian food is rich.  Moorish cuisine has been fully integrated as Brazilian food. Today there are approximately 7 million Brazilians of Syrian/Lebanese descent. You will find Arab Restaurants everywhere and Middle Eastern food as part of the main Brazilian menu.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked Garbanzo beans or 2 cans drained
  • juice of half a Lemmon or lime
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tea spoon ground cummin
  • salt to taste
  • 2 table spoons Tahini (optional)*
  • mint leaves to garnish

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients in a food processor except for mint leaves and process until creamy and smooth.*
  • Place hummus in a serving dish, drizzle some extra olive oil and garnish with chopped mint leaves. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

*If you remove the skins off the garbanzo beans you will have a silkier puree.

* It can be difficult to find Tahini, when Tahini is added then you have a Hummus bi Tahini, but it is not necessary for just making garbanzo bean dip.

Serve with Pita bread, following is a recipe for homemade pita bread

 

 

 

 

 

Brazilian Shrimp Torte

 

 

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Torta de Camarao

 

This is a very popular dish in Brazil, it can be served as a main dish, side dish, party food.

This dish is also known as “Empadao de Camarao” and it is found in every bistro, served in big slices or in mini sizes,as finger food or appetizers .

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup ( 2 sticks) cold butter cut into cubes
  • 8 tablespoons ice water
  • shredded fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg yolk beaten
  • 2 table spoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound of cooked shrimp
  • 1/2 lime or Lemmon
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1/4 of an onion finely chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced hearts of palms ( optional but highly recommended)
  • 1/2 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives ( optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 table-spoon flour

Directions:

  1. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of flour and salt to a food processor or to a medium bowl. Pulse or stir until combined. Add butter and process or use a fork to mix. Add remaining flour and mix until dough is crumbly. Add cold water and process or use hands to shape dough into a ball. If dough falls apart add another table-spoon or two of cold water and work the dough until  forms a ball.
  2. Remove dough from food processor or bowl, place it on a clean surface and divide dough in two halves. Wrap each half with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium heat, saute onions, garlic, tomatoes and red pepper in olive oil,  cook until soft. Add shrimp, squeeze lime juice, add salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes. Then add hearts of palms, olives, fresh parsley and flour. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Pre heat oven to  350 F.
  5. Remove one half of dough from refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Open dough with a rolling-pin and place it on a round pie dish. Prick dough with a fork and place it in oven for 15 min.
  6. Remove from oven, place but leave oven on. Pour shrimp filling inside pie crust, set aside.
  7. Remove other half of dough from refrigerator and open with a rolling-pin on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on top of filling. Press the sides to close the edges. Brush the top with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle parmesan cheese. Make a cut like a cross in the middle with a knife. Place it on top of a cookie sheet and in the oven and bake for 35 min or until top is golden brown. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

“Caipirinha” a Brazilian National Cocktail

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“Caipirinha” is an unique Brazilian cocktail made with limes, sugar and distilled sugar cane known by several different names being “Cachaça” the most popular but it is also known as ‘Pinga”, “Aguardente” and “Caninha”.  It is basically fermented sugar cane juice and it can be very strong by itself, many people will drizzle honey, others will have a pure shot before a meal, it is known to open up an appetite.

Cachaça may not be easy to find at liquor stores in the US but Caipirinha is becoming popular at bars around the nation and Cachaça can be order on line and it  may be substituted for Rum or Vodka. When using Rum this cocktail is known as “Caipirissima” and if using Vodka it’s “Caipirosca”. A Caipirinha must have Cachaça.

The original Caipirinha is made with limes but there is a variation using passion fruit also very tropical ,Brazilian and delicious.

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Ingredients”

  • 1 lime
  • 2 ounces of Cachaça
  • 2 tbs sugar ( I like to substitute the sugar for agave nectar)
  • ice

Directions:

  1. Rinse lime well and dry. Cut lime in quarters and remove the white skin, then cut the quarters again in half.
  2. Place ice in a cocktail shaker, add lime slices, muddle gently just to release some juice, add Cachaça, sugar or agave. Shake well and transfer all to a Rocks glass. Poke limes and stir with a cocktail straw, garnish with a slice of lime.
  3. No cocktail shaker? just place the ice in the Rocks glass, add the limes and muddle a little using a muddler or the end of a butter knife, add cachaça and sugar or agave. Poke and stir well using a cocktail straw, garnish with lime.
  4. ENJOY!  and SAÚDE!

 

Shrimp and Hearts of Palms “Au Gratin” Camarão com Catupiry

This is a  very rich and creamy dish usually made on Sundays when family, extended family and friends gather for a big lunch. It is made with an unique type of cream cheese you can only find in Brazil, although it can be order on line these days, it is similar to a combination of Mascarpone and cream cheese. It is called Catupiry, it was developed by Italians in the State of Minas Gerais but the name comes from a Brazilian native language “Tupi” and it means “excellent”. It’s an excellent cream cheese!

This dish is perfect served on top of white rice and butternut squash steamed

Serves 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb uncooked shrimp with tail on
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 jar or can of hearts of palms
  • 1/2 pkg of cream cheese
  • 1 container of Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 can small diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of fresh shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 bunch fresh parleys finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add shrimp let it cook for about 5 minutes or until its nice and pink, drain water, place shrimp in a bowl, melt butter and drizzle over.
  2. In the same pot used to cook shrimp, drizzle olive oil over a medium heat, add can of diced tomatoes, a half   can of water and chopped garlic. Let it cook for about 5 minutes. Add heavy cream, salt and pepper and  blend using a hand mixer, if you don’t have a hand mixer , transfer to a blender then transfer back to the pot once smoothed. Let it cook until bubbly. Change heat to low and add Mascarpone cheese, parleys, stir and remove from heat.
  3. Remove shrimp tails and place shrimp on bottom of a rectangular 13X9 glass or ceramic dish.
  4. Drain water from hearts of palms cut them in slices and place them all over on top of shrimp.
  5. Cut cream cheese in small cubes and place them all over the top. Pour sauce over, sprinkle bread crumbs and  shredded Asiago cheese over the top.
  6. Heat oven to Broil, place dish in oven and broil for 10 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.

Steamed Rice and Butternut

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1/2 butternut squash chopped in small cubes
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  • 4 cups water
  • parleys for garnish

Directions:

  1. If using a rice cooker, drizzle with oil, add rice and chopped butternut, dissolve salt and garlic in water and add to the rice cooker, close top and set it to white rice. Once cooked, transfer to a plate and garnish with parsley
  2. To cook over the stove, drizzle oil in a pot turn heat to low, add rice, butternut and stir, then add salt and garlic dissolved in water, stir again and turn heat up to medium, cover pot and let it cook until tender, approximately 15 to 20 minutes but you need to watch in case water dries fast, then keep adding a bit of water as needed.

Brazilian Chocolate Mousse Torte “Pave de Chocolate”

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“Pave de Chocolate” is my signature recipe. I kept this recipe as a secret for a long time. It was one of my best kept secrets, now revealed for you to enjoy.

It is decadent, creamy, cold and dreamy!

This recipe was originally made with “lady finger” cookies but they were really hard to find in the USA back in the day so I substituted for graham crackers.

It’s now easy to find lady fingers, but I kept the graham crackers in the recipe. They make the recipe more affordable and delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of honey graham crackers
  • 1 Can fat free condensed milk
  • 1 Cup of skim milk
  • 4 oz Coffee liqueur
  • 1 Pint whipping cream
  • 4 oz unsweetened 100% dark chocolate
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 13×9 rectangular glass or ceramic dish

Directions:

  1. Put chocolate chips in freezer.
  2. Melt dark chocolate in a water bath
  3. Pour condensed milk in a food processor or blender add the melted chocolate and mix well, pour in a large bowl, set aside.
  4. Put whipping cream in food processor and whip until very fluffy. Add whipped cream slowly to chocolate mix folding with a fork to preserve the air pockets. Cover and place in freezer for 30 min.
  5. Mix milk and coffee liqueur in a bowl. Dip graham crackers one by one in this mixture and place in rectangular dish forming one layer. Spread some of the chocolate mousse on top. Repeat this procedure, layering the crackers and mousse until the crackers are finished. The last layer must be of chocolate mousse.
  6. Put frozen chocolate chips in a food processor using a shredding blade and shred to pieces. Sprinkle all over the chocolate mousse.
  7. Cover the dish and place in freezer for at least 2 hours.
  8. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving.
  9. Keep in freezer between servings.