A Brazilian Treat for Home Cooks in a Hurry
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A Brazilian Treat for Home Cooks in a Hurry

When Natalia Pereira was a girl in Minas Gerais, Brazil, her mother Francisca gave her some bricks and some empty, washer sack cans to make her own toy kitchen. Perera liked it very much. She used to cook rice and beans on hot coals while her mother worked on a wood stove, boiling meat and bones for broth or heating water at bath time. “We were poor, but we had chickens, and we knew how to make everything,” says Perera. “My mother’s hair always smelled like a chimney.”

Francesca cooked every meal every day, at home – on special occasions like stews, cornbread, potatoes and, Pereira’s birthday, candy. Francesca will reduce the milk until it becomes thick and creamy, with sugar and cocoa powder added to it. Then he will shape the mixture by hand, rolling each bonbon into cocoa powder. “It was not fiction,” Perera says. “And it was not the most luxurious shape, but it was perfect.” Pereira remembers the fluttering candies such as between Choice and Soft, between Bitterwhite and Sweet. Brigadier An Air Force brigadier is said to have run for Brazil’s presidency in the 1940s, and became a popular national dessert as shelf-stable condensed milk became more widely available. House chefs in a hurry can make a fabulous treat with a little more of butter, canned sweetened condensed milk and cocoa.

“It’s about doing this with you,” says Perera, who left her home in the 20s and came to the United States, where she eventually learned to cook with Francisca and started earning money by cooking Brazilian food. He worked as a personal chef and later opened his restaurant Woodspoon in Los Angeles. Perera may be a professional, but she still cooks Brigadier Along the way he learned as a child. Sometimes she uses canned milk, and sometimes she makes her own sweet sweet milk, mixing whole milk with sugar until it becomes shiny and yellow. Pereira dissolves cocoa powder in milk, then increases heat, stirring and shaking until the texture of the mass begins to change. “You can see the sparkle, long lines and beautiful body,” she says. “It makes little peaks and pulls a certain way.” Slipping from the bottom of the pot, the chocolate mix starts running as a whole, and when it does, it’s just ready.

Perera may be a professional, but she still cooks Brigadier Along the way he learned as a child.



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