Ghee, carob and coconut Brigadeiros

“Brigadeiro” is a sort of truffle, made with condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder. It’s a highly popular sweet in Brazil, and because of Portugal’s connection with the country, we have developed a life-long love affair with the bite-sized dessert.
You can find the original version in many pastry shops, cafés and supermarkets but you can easily make this delicacy at home.

I have posted this recipe in the Portugal Resident, but am reposting it here so I can add a few more photos you can drool over.

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This is a photo I took with a macro lense – the effect of the glass table in the background, lit by the morning sunshine, is amazing. Kudos to whoever invented low aperture, it’s like my favorite photography feature ever.

If you decide that dirtying a few dishes for the sake of some homemade goodies is a delightful option, ditch leaving the house, put your apron on and turn the stove on.

Another advantage you get by making this recipe is the fact that your imagination has no limits – choose and play with the ingredients of your preference, just like I did.

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The first part of my culinary adventure was to make Ghee – Indian version of butter and what the French designate as “clarified” butter.

Basically, the process consists in slowly heating the butter in a pan and skimming the frothy foam, with a spoon, while it gathers on the surface.This might take a while (15-25 minutes), but the result is well worth it – butterscotch scented butter, without the impurities or water, a ton of flavour, a longer shelf life and a good option for lactose intolerants.

Any leftover goes amazing in, well, almost anything you decide to cook.

Ingredients
▪ 310 grams condensed milk (uncooked)
▪ 90 grams ghee
▪ 25 grams carob flour
▪ 25 grams cocoa flour
▪ Coconut shavings (for coating)

Instructions
1. Make the ghee as instructed above. Usually, 250 grams of butter will give about 140 grams of ghee (if you skim the foam carefully during the process). Each brand of butter will have a specific percentage of waste, but if you purchase a high fat content butter, you will be able to get more ghee out of the process.

2. In a pan, combine all of the ingredients and stir on medium-low heat for about 10-14 minutes (this depends on the pan and the heat). Keep in mind to stir, almost constantly, and don’t let it burn. It will stick to the pan, so make sure you take it out as soon as it’s finished. Use a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, with a bit of oil, so the mix won’t stick to this either.

3. As soon as it has cooled down enough to handle, weigh portions of about 35 grams each, roll into balls and toss in coconut shavings for a protective (yet edible) coating.

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If you want to gift someone with this edible treat, stack about five portions so they form mini cylinders, wrap in parchment paper and tie both ends with some ribbon (just like a huge piece of candy).

I used half carob and half cocoa powder because I enjoy the aromatic mix, and both ingredients actually combine very well together, without the carob becoming overpowering.

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Honey Lemon Curd Muffins

You know that saying, ‘if life gives you lemons, make lemonade? Or throw them at someone’s head?’ Well, I’ve decided to make something sweet instead.
This recipe was my solution to use up lemons that were falling desperately off the tree.

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|| Muffin batter
Ingredients
2 eggs
105 grams salted butter
80 grams brown sugar
50 grams honey
200 grams all-purpose flour
60g soy milk (lactose intolerant option)
Zest from 1 lemon, plus 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
8 grams baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Procedure
Make sure butter is kept at room temperature, and beat for at least two minutes on medium speed until smooth. Keep beating while adding the honey and sugar. Add the lemon zest and vanilla paste until combined. Beat in one egg at a time, making sure you incorporate well before adding the other egg.

Sift the flour with the baking powder beforehand; add into the butter mix along with the liquids (soy milk and lemon juice).

Let the batter set for at least an hour before cooking; this helps the flour to absorb the liquid, which makes the dough become very moist.

Fill greased muffin pan or individuals up to 3/4. Preheat the oven to 165ºC and bake for 25-30 minutes.

|| Lemon curd
(Bimby’s recipe – our favorite kitchen gadjet – it’s better than a Kitchenaid – no, seriously)
Ingredients:
160 grams caster sugar
2 eggs
60 grams salted butter
2 lemons (zest and juice)

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Procedure:
Melt the sugar with the lemon juice on low heat – don’t let it boil. Stir the syrup into previously beaten eggs and continue to mix while slowly incorporating it. Cook again on low heat, always stirring. You will recognise it’s done when a dipped spoon becomes drenched with thickened curd. Off the heated stove, add the butter and let it melt slowly.

Scientifically, eggs start to coagulate around 60°C; a bit higher they will curdle and separate. The key is a low temperature, plenty of stirring, without overcooking. Plus don’t forget to stir. If a very silky smooth texture is desired, pulsing it in a blender will do the trick.

Cut out a hole in the baked muffins and fill with the curd, sprinkle with powdered sugar or dress up with fresh thyme.

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Any leftover lemon curd? Mix it with plain yoghurt and muesli. Use it as a pancake topping, a simple spread for toast or combine with salty cheese for a sweet tangy contrast.

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