Every time I go back to Brazil to visit my family, there are a few foods I must eat at least once before leaving. That is actually a problem if I’m having a short stay, because I really mean when I have to eat it all. Specially when I was living in Russia, where the supply of some ingredients were nonexistent, my stays in Brazil meant basically eating-drinking-eating, with some short periods of sleeping in the middle.
I always tell my friends that Brazilian food is completely underestimated. Nowadays you have a lot of people going to churrascarias, while drinking caipirinhas and having brigadeiro for dessert. But that’s just it. So boring, so simple.
Given the country’s size and background, you could imagine we have a very interesting and diverse cuisine, which is true. But no one talks about it.
(I have some plans in mind to change it in the future, but let’s stick to the story by now)
One of the things it’s a must eat for me are these cornmeal choux pastries. But the interesting thing is that I didn’t realize it was choux pastry until about what? Yesterday? Well, yeah.
Well, in Brazil we call these pastries made with cornmeal “broa”. More specifically, “broa de fubá” (literally cornmeal broa). Even though there are many different ways to make a broa, my favorite are the ones that are very light and hollow in the middle, baked until browned and puffed. Just like choux pastry.
I’ve spent YEARS eating tons of this, plus a huge amount of time studying french pastry and I have never got that they are essentially the same thing. Shame on me!
But seriously? How could I even possibly know?
Yesterday I went to search a couple recipes to make it at home for craving purposes and while reading the recipe, I saw that they are made exactly like pâte à choux. So I decided to give them a try, still not believing they could possibly be the same thing. And well, my friend, they are.
Needless to say they are very easy to make. This recipe calls for cornmeal and I really recommend you to use it and not corn flour. It has to be coarse otherwise the texture will not be the same. I had no problems finding it here in Toronto, so it probably should be fine elsewhere.
They are crispy right after you take them from the oven and a few of them were eaten exactly like this. However, they become a little more soft a few hours after baking — but worry not, that is how we have them in Brazil. If kept in a closed container, it is good for 3-4 days outside the fridge (but I doubt it will last this long!).
- 250 g milk
- 100 g butter
- 50 g sugar
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 100 g all-purpose flour
- 50 g cornmeal
- 3 eggs
- Pre heat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
- In a large saucepan, bring to a boil the milk, butter, sugar and fennel seeds.
- Once boiled, remove the pan from the heat and add the all-purpose flour and the cornmeal all at once. Mix the pan contents with a wooden spoon until the mixture has become a thick mass.
- Continue mixing for about 2 minutes with a wooden spoon to make sure the mass has cooled down a bit.
- Then, add the eggs one by one and continue mixing until the eggs have been completely incorporated. The mixture may look curdled at first but keep mixing because it will come together.
- Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- With the help of a piping bag and a open star pastry tip (I used french tip PF16, but Wilton's 1M work just as fine) pipe small balls of dough, of about 1 inch in diameter.
- Sprinkle cornmeal on the top of each piped dough and bake it in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.