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Culture Through Cuisine – Brazil

Culture Through Cuisine – Brazil
by Kimberly Collette, Central Park
From October 2016 Connections News, Culture Through Cuisine

cuisine-karenina-rincon-oct-2016-img_2393Karenina Rincon was born and raised in Brazil. Karenina and her family, husband Andre and their two young daughters, have made their home in the Highlands for the last four and a half years.

She and her family love living in the Highlands but Karenina misses her family in Brazil and living by the beach. When she is visiting her family there, she always makes sure to have her favorite dishes and eat at her favorite places.

One of Karenina’s favorite places to eat when in Brazil is the pizza shops. In Brazil, pizza is served in the traditional Brazilian BBQ style. Waiters walk around with different types of pizzas, some sweet, some savory. “It’s so sad you only have just five or six kinds of pizza toppings here,” laughs Karenina. The crust is thinner and there is a variety of sauces. And when your meal is done you finish it with the dessert pizza that is sweet and topped with ice cream.

Quindim is one of her favorites also. “When in Brazil I have to buy some from one of the little places,” she says. Quindim is a sweet custard-like dessert. It is a beautifully glossy traditional Brazilian treat. There’s a shop on every corner in Brazil selling a variety of flavors and colors.cuisine-karenina-rincon-oct-2016-img_2400

When Karenina was little she remembers eating so many of them she had a stomach ache. Her mother settled her tummy with some tea. Now Karenina will make them for her own family. When you buy them at a shop they are small and bite sized. Karenina makes large bundt-shaped Quindim for her family Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.

It’s a simple recipe of whole eggs and as many egg yolks, there’s sugar to sweeten and cornstarch to thicken it. As Karenina prepares the eggs she removes the chalazae. That’s the little white bit next to the yolk. Karenina says removing that keeps the Quindim from tasting too “eggy”.

Dry coconut is added and it’s all blended in Karenina’s blender. One of Karenina’s daughters comes and asks Karenina in perfect Portuguese to help with a little doll’s dress. Karenina fixes the doll and sends her on her way.

The coconut is key in creating the Quindim. As it bakes the coconut rises and creates a crust that is a little crunchy. When it’s flipped over and served the glossy custard top is held firm with the crunchy coconut bottom.

The pan is coated in sugar and Karenina bakes the Quindim in the oven in a water bath. This causes the sugar to melt and gives the Quindim the beautiful traditional glossy finish.

The dessert comes together fast and in the oven. It’s a family favorite. Karenina misses her family, the beach and those pizzas with ice cream (who wouldn’t?). The Quindim comes out of the oven and it may not be from a corner bakery in Brazil, but Karenina serves it to her family and it’s like serving a little bit of home.



10 egg yolks
1 cup + 2 tbsp of sugar
½ cup of shredded coconut
200 ml coconut milk (half a can)
1 tsp of vanilla extract (optional)
2 tbsp butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Mix the 1 cup of sugar, coconut, coconut milk, egg yolks and vanilla in a blender. You can also mix it by hand in a bowl.
  3. Grease an 8-inch diameter baking dish with the 2 tablespoons butter. It is better if the baking dish has a whole in the middle. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons sugar all over dish. Shake the pan a few times so the sugar sticks to the butter evenly.
  4. Pour the mixture into the baking pan. Place the baking dish into a large roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the bottom of the roasting pan to reach approximately 1½ inches of water.
  5. Bake in the water bath until golden brown on top, about 50 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool completely before turning out onto a serving dish. Refrigerate until serving.

Tip: If less egg taste desired, you can sift the egg yolks that way making them less eggy.