Brazilian Sweet Squash Dessert

Long neck squash - Abóbora pescoço

This is the beautiful squash that we harvested. They can weigh from 5kg (11lbs) to 20kg (44lbs) and have a beautiful orange color!

At the beginning of May we harvested a ton of squash here on the farm. This is not the americana butternut squash, but a gigantic squash that can weigh up to 20kg/44lbs. . Although I am selling most of it, I am still up to my arms in squash and most of my cooking at the moment involves squash in some form or another. One of the best things that I have made so far is a sweet squash dessert. Boiling the squash with cloves, coconut and sugar makes the most delicious dessert, especially if paired with fresh cheese.

Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Brazilian Sweet Squash DessertSweet Squash Dessert

1.5kg/3.3lbs cubed squash (you can use any kind of squash or pumpkin)
450g/1lb white sugar
15-20 cloves
50g-100g/1.7oz-3.5oz shredded coconut

Cube the squash. In a medium to large pan add all of the ingredients except the coconut. Bring to the boil. There is no need to add water as the squash will release a lot of water, but if you think it is a bit dry and the squash is burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan, you can add some water. Boil for approximately 30 to 45 minutes until the squash is soft. Using a fork, mash all of the squash until you have a nice pulp. Add the coconut, mixing in well. Continue boiling until you have a thick puree. Add more sugar, coconut or cloves if you want.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve on it own or with fresh cheese.

Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.


Pumpkin and chicken stew (Frango na Moranga)

The last few weeks on the farm have been extremely busy and I have barely had any time to write-up some of the wonderful things I have surprisingly found the time to make. Although I have been busy with farm work, I have managed to squeeze in some time in the kitchen to try out some new recipes. Hopefully I will manage to get those recipes written and posted within the next few weeks.

But, today I want to share a recipe that I made a couple of weeks ago and just haven’t gotten around to posting. This is a recipe that I have been wanting to do for a long time, but traditionally it is made with shrimp, and I rarely buy shrimp, so, I never really had the possibility of making this. But, to my surprise and great joy a little while ago I came across a youtube video (if you speak portuguese you can WATCH IT HERE) of this dish being made with chicken. After watching the video I ran to my freezer to see whether I had chicken and to my delight I DID! All the other ingredients I had, so I went ahead and made it.

Frango na morangaThis is a beautifully simple recipe and has such amazing taste. What I love about this dish is that if you are careful when scooping out the pumpkin, you can use the shell of the pumpkin as a serving dish for the stew. This makes for a beautiful center piece and definitely a great way to impress your family and friends!

If you do not have chicken or would prefer to make this dish with shrimp, you can simply go ahead and substitute the chicken for shrimp!


600g chicken, cubed
1 small onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsps of parsley finely chopped
1 pumpkin, approximately 3kg or 6-7lbs
1 cup of cream cheese (optional)
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 tsp of chilli flakes
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
Salt to taste

STEP 1: Wash the pumpkin well and cook in the microwave for 15 minutes on high or in the oven at 200C/390F for approximately 1 hour, until soft, but not mushy.

STEP 2: When the pumpkin is cooked, cut out the top in a circle and put aside. Remove the seeds from inside the pumpkin and remove the pulp from the sides. If you plan to use the pumpkin as a serving dish do not remove the pulp from the bottom. Cut the pumpkin into cubes and set aside.

STEP 3: Lightly stir fry the cubed chicken in a wok or deep pan together with some oil, onions, garlic and parsley. Add the pumpkin, the cream cheese and coconut milk. Bring to a light boil and leave for approximately 6-7 minutes until the mixture becomes creamy. Season with the chilli flakes, nutmeg and salt.

STEP 4: Spoon the stew into the pumpkin, place the top on and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes at 200C/390F. Serve hot with rice!

Manjar Branco Recipe Update

Some time ago I posted a recipe for Manjar Branco, one of my favourite deserts. The first time I made this desert it worked beautifully and I didn’t find it too difficult to make. Unfortunately, I never really managed to recreate my first successful attempt and after several failures I gave-up trying to make it.

A little while ago I stumbled across a new recipe for Manjar Branco and decided that I had to give it a go again. This new recipe I found takes much more cornstarch, so this makes it a pretty fool-proof recipe. My previous recipe works well, but you need to have patience. Because of the low cornstarch content it takes longer for the milk mixture to reach the thickness you need in order for the pudding to properly set in the fridge. In general, my previous recipe took close to 30 minutes to reach the right thickness. This new recipe takes 10 minutes!

Although this recipe works really well, I do need to warn you that it can go too fast, and therefore you need to watch the mixture very closely as it begins to thicken. You do not want the mixture to be too thick as it will then be difficult to place into the prepared tin or bowls and will result in a  heavy dessert.

In my recipe I recommend a measurement between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cornstarch. If you want to use the full 1/2 cup of cornstarch in your recipe the mixture will come to thickness very fast. If you use the lesser amount it will take a bit longer, but there will be less chance of it becoming too thick!

Instead of making a caramel sauce with prunes I made a sweet blackberry sauce to accompany my Manjar Branco. If you don’t have blackberries you can make a simple fruit salad with mango, papaya, pineapple and oranges. Just make sure to add a nice amount of orange juice to the fruit salad so that there is some extra liquid to accompany the Manjar Branco.

(6 portions)

1/4 to 1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk (395g)
200ml coconut milk
100g coconut flakes
1 cup fruit salad or blackberry sauce

Dissolve the cornstarch with a bit of milk in a bowl. Mix well, making sure that there are no lumps. Add the remaining milk, condensed milk, coconut milk and coconut flakes in a medium pan. Add the cornstarch mix. Bring to a boil on low to medium heat, stirring constantly; approximately 10 minutes. Once mixture is boiling allow to thicken. Once thickened, remove from heat and pour into 6 small dessert bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to cool.

When you are about to serve, spoon the fruit salad or blackberry sauce on top.

Blackberry sauce
To make the blackberry sauce, place approximately 300g of blackberries in a pan, add about 1/4 cup of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling add 1/2 cup of white sugar and allow to boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not crush the fruit. Allow to cool and serve with the manjar branco.

After two years……I’m back!

IMG_3861This morning I decided to make one of my favourite Brazilian desserts, Manjar Branco. I hadn’t made it in a very long time as the last time I made it I had a complete disaster and never wanted to try making it again. But, I tried, and it worked wonderfully. While making the Manjar Branco I thought about A Taste of Brazil and thoght that it was about time to try and restart this blog.

It has been two years since I last posted and a lot has happened during these two years (I won’t tell you everything that has happened here, but definitely some things will come up in the next posts). YES, I am still in Brazil, YES I am still cooking, but, NO I do not have much time for blogging, photography and experimenting with new recipes. However, I am going to try and start posting more regularly and sharing my Brazilian recipes.

In the past the main focus of this blog was for me to learn Brazilian cooking and share my experiences, post recipes and tell people about the foods of Brazil. I intend to continue this, but I will bring more of a focus to rural life and what my husband and I do here on our farm in the south of Minas Gerais.

As some people may remember, my husband and I grow organic vegetables. As you can imagine, farm work has taken me out of the kitchen for the past two years and has kept me super busy. Farm life still continues and still keeps me extremely busy, but I have a lot of new recipes to share and new experiences with old recipes! I also have lots of fun stories about rural life and lots of different experiences to share.

Stay tuned for upcoming recipes and stories about life on my farm.



Bolo de Coco (Coconut Cake)

Coconut CakeCake is a popular item in my house. Almost once a week I can expect a question from my husband asking me when I am going to bake a cake. You see, Brazilians absolutely love cakes. They like a simple cake that they can eat for breakfast that will have tons of flavor and just hit the spot to start the day right.

Coconut CakeYes, I did say cake for breakfast. I know, I know, I know, it is slightly weird to think of eating cake for breakfast. It definitely took me a little while to wrap my head around this one. Cake for me has always been something to eat for tea break in the morning with a cup of black tea or coffee. Or to have later in the afternoon. But, Brazilians view cake a little bit differently. Yes, they do eat cake at other times during the day, but as I have discovered with my husband, morning seems to be the favored time of day to have a slice of cake.

Coconut CakeAfter experimenting with cake for breakfast I have actually come to really enjoy it and never pass up the opportunity to have a slice of cake with my breakfast. Eating a yummy slice of cake early in the morning does have the tendency to help get the day off to a great start.

Brazilian cakes are generally very simple. And it is the simplicity of these cakes that make them so enjoyable for breakfast. Brazilian cakes have a simple flavor, light and fluffy texture, and either some icing or no icing.

This coconut cake is perfect for breakfast or with a cup of tea or coffee in the late morning or afternoon.


3 cups white flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200 g  butter, room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 cup coconut milk
80g shredded coconut

Chocolate Glaze
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp milk

For the cake:
Heat the oven to 180C. Place the butter in a glass or metal bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Add all of the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, and salt together with the coconut milk. Mix well. Add the shredded coconut and mix lightly until it is just mixed in. Transfer mixture to a pre-greased baking tin. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center of the cake clean.

For the glaze:
Mix the cocoa powder, sugar, and milk until it is a very smooth consistency. When the cake is taken out of the oven, immediately remove from the tin and place on a plate. Cover the cake with the glaze and return to the warm oven, make sure the oven is turned off. Leave the cake in the oven with the door open for 15-20 minutes.

For a PDF of this recipe CLICK HERE!

Coconut CakeSources:
Pitadinha: O bolo de coco mais gostoso do mundo