Sonhos Portuguese Doughnuts

Sonhos (Portuguese Doughnuts)

Over the years, I’ve tried a myriad of Christmas desserts, from chocolate cakes to tiramisu, puddings, and pies. One treat I haven’t tried in a long time is Sonhos (Portuguese Doughnuts), from my native Brazil. You find a little fried doughnut, or something similar in most international cuisine, like Beignets in France, Bomboloni in Italy, Berliner in Germany, Churros in Mexico, and Sufganiyot in Israel.

The frying aspect makes for a crispy and satisfying pastry, a small bite of joy. You prepare what is essentially pate-a-choux, then employ the Sonhos trademark: little doughnuts that are light and airy on the inside, crispy and caramelized on the outside. See short video of these babies frying. These sonhos are a revelation when served with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, jam, or even plain, just coated in cinnamon sugar. The biggest challenge about making these? Not eating them as you do so.

Especially this time of the year, making Sonhos invokes a sense of nostalgia for a time when I used to eat them in Brazil at padarias (bakeries) where they’re sold. In fact, it’s hard to remember the last time I made Sonhos (Portuguese Doughnuts) from scratch. It was probably when I was still living in Brazil, exploring our baking repertoire.

The urge to make them hit me when a client asked me to teach them in a cooking class. She wanted to make them with her family with that in mind: bringing everybody together with fun kitchen projects over the holidays.

Days before printing the recipe, I went to the kitchen to test it out making them with water, with milk, with butter, sonhos without butter, with eggs, and fewer eggs. Man, I love my job.

Moments like these fill my heart with joy as I cook, bake, test, write, style, take photos and videos. Who knew that a whole progression of culinary production would unfold from those pastries? Yes, I take pictures, lots of them, as the art of photographing food and making videos gained a whole new meaning in today’s era of social media.

But the culmination of happiness happens when you cook with others and gather with family in the kitchen over Christmas, bonding over a meal prepared by many hands. This cooking class happened in person. The first since the start of the pandemic. We chopped, braised, assembled, fried, cooked, and cooked some more. Our class was a mix of beautiful recipes and family team collaboration.

Despite covid numbers rising, I’m so glad we did it. As I followed the news, I was afraid they would cancel the class. They were worried I was going to cancel as well. None of us did, which tells me that we all urge for this activity, and for togetherness.

The word Sonhos translates to dreams, the fuel for our souls. Welcome family, welcome memories, welcome friends, and welcome dreams! I don’t know what the future holds for us, for the world, or for the current Covid situation. Who knows what social media will be here 10 years now? All I can say is one thing I know for sure: I am a dreamer and, as long as I’m alive, I’ll keep on dreaming.

 

Sonhos Brazilian Recipe

 

Sonhos (Portuguese Doughnuts)

Makes about 20 doughnuts

 

Ingredients:

For the Batter:

1 cup water

1 stick (115g) unsalted butter

pinch salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 eggs

 

For the Sugar Coating:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ cup sugar

 

Canola Oil as needed for frying

 

Prepare the Batter: In a saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar, and bring to a boil.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add the flour, all at once.

Return the saucepan to the stove and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon for approximately 2 minutes over medium heat, to dry out the paste. (You dry it out by moving it from side to side, in the saucepot, with a wooden spoon.)

Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat at low speed, letting the steam escape.

Add the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is nice and smooth. Don’t overbeat it. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prepare the Coating: In a shallow bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.

Fry the Sonhos: Fill a medium saucepan with oil to a depth of about 3 inches (about 3 cups) and heat the oil to 350˚F. Using a small ice scream scoop or a small spoon, scoop a few balls and drop them into the hot oil. Work in batches and don’t crowd the pan. Adjust the heat and temperature of the oil as needed. Cook until the sonhos as nicely golden brown all over, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sonhos directly from the oil to the sugar coating, rolling each in sugar all over. You want to roll them in the sugar while hot so the sugar sticks. Repeat with all the dough. Let them cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve them with chocolate sauce or caramel sauce.

 

 

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You can buy my cookbooks on Amazon: Latin Superfoods is my latest cookbook, I’m also the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook.

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Leticia

Pumpkin Flan

Pumpkin Flan

Talk about flan to any Brazilian and we jump at it, for our love for Pudim de Leite is too strong.  Combine the love of flan with the flavors of fall and this recipe for Pumpkin Flan is perfect for any dinner party or holiday occasion. I first got my hands on this recipe years ago, through the pages of the Gourmet Magazine (I still can’t get over) and have been making it for years.

I remember the many incredible recipes from that magazine. The work they produced wasn’t just delicious—they were memory made edible. It’s history in a bite. And the meal isn’t only about what’s on the table, it’s about the people sitting around it, and the meals that came before it, and the ones that will follow. It’s about tradition, which means that there are things that matter more than how it tastes. Although when recipes are as perfect as this one, it’s an Olympic gold medal at the table!

Pumpkin Flan
Photo by Rodolfo Sanches

 

While I try to add variations to every Thanksgiving table, I always come back to this Pumpkin Flan. The recipe is just so perfect, so tested, so good and so reliable.

When making the caramel, be sure to tilt the ramekin so that it covers the entire dish.

You can choose to make it in a large ramekin as I did, if you’re serving a large group, or in individual ramekins if you prefer.

Pumpkin Flan Recipe
Pumpkin Flan can also be prepared in individual ramekins.

 

Cooking time will change slightly if you use individual ramekins, bake for 45 minutes instead of 60 plus minutes. Whether using a large or individual ramekin, be sure to use a water bath as it protects the custard from direct heat, and it helps to cook more evenly.

Wrapped in plastic film, the flan will keep for a good 7 days in the refrigerator. But once you unmold, it’s best to enjoy the same day.

 

Pumpkin Flan 

Serves 8 to 10

For the Caramel and Flan

2 cups sugar

1½ cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

5 whole large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk

1 (15oz) can sold pack pumpkin puree ( I used Trader Joe’s)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

 

For Garnish:

1 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

Equipment: one 2-quart souffle dish or a round ceramic casserole dish and a water bath set up

 

Make the Caramel:

Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 350F.

Cook 1 cup sugar in heavy saucepan over moderate heat undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar melts into a deep caramel.

Pour over the dish, tilting it to cover the bottom and sides. Keep tilting as the caramel cools and thickens enough to coat, then let harden.

 

Make the Flan:

Brink cream and milk to a bare simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, then remove from heat.

Whisk together whole eggs, yolk, and remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl until combined, then whisk in pumpkin, vanilla, spices, and salt until combined.

Add the hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking well.

Pour custard over the caramel in dish, then bake in a water bath until flan is golden brown on top and it’s somewhat firm when you jiggle the ramekin, about 1¼ hours.

Remove dish from the water bath and transfer to a rack to cool at room temperature, then chill flan in the refrigerator until cold, at least 6 hours. Flan can be kept in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic film up to 7 days ahead of time.

Bring the flan to room temperature 20-30 minutes before serving. Run a thin knife between flan and side of the dish to loosen. Shake dish gently from side to side and when flan moves freely in dish, invert onto a large platter with a lip to catch the caramel.

Holding the dish and platter securely together, quickly invert and turn out flan onto platter.

Caramel will pour out over and around flan. Allow all the caramel to run down before lifting the dish.

Sprinkle the flan with pumpkin seeds just before serving.

 

I’m so happy that you visited today. Thanks for reading and browsing my site.

Make sure to share this story with someone who cares about this topic.

I’d love to know what you think about this article, please send an e-mail.

You can buy my cookbooks on Amazon: Latin Superfoods is my latest cookbook, I’m also the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A cookbook.

Visit my YouTube Chanel @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz

The easiest and most impactful thing you can to support is subscribe to my newsletter and to my channel on YouTube. And of course, tell your friends about it.

I’d love to connect with you on social media

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See you next time,

Leticia

 

 

Chicken Peperonata Cooking show

Chicken Peperonata

Talk about celebrity crush, here is mine: Giada De Laurentiis. I’m not sure if “crush” is the proper word, but you get what I mean. Not only I’m one of the millions of fans of her shows on Food Network, I’ve been using her cookbooks since Every Day Italian came out.

This recipe is adapted from Giada’s Italy, another book featuring many Italian inspired recipes great for the home-cook. In the book, she titled the recipe Crispy Chicken Thighs with Peppers and Capers.  She tells the story of her great-aunt Raffy, “who makes the most delicious peperonata” and inspired her to create this recipe. I thought it’s easier to just call it Chicken Peperonata.

Many food aristocrats consider chicken boring. Not me. I love chicken, and this recipe is Italian chicken glory! While white breast meat is 99 percent white fiber muscle and very healthy, dark meat carries more oxygen and myoglobin, which is the reason for the darker color, but it also carries more fat (but not that much) which is the reason it tastes better.

Like Giada, I like to make this recipe with chicken thighs, but if you prefer to use chicken breast, it will be just as wonderful. If you want to be even more productive and buy an entire chicken, go for it, and use every part. Save the bones for brodo and use all other parts of the chicken for this recipe.

Magic in the world of food often relies on the ingredients you have, so be sure to carefully choose nice kalamata olives (over canned), fresh bell peppers and capers in brine. The result is as incredible as any Italian restaurant can provide.

Another bonus of this recipe: it’s year-round-evergreen. When you close your eyes and imagine a table full of friends and family, picture this Chicken Peperonata in the middle of the table. It’s pure cooking, captivating your family with the power of cooking—and the recipes that you find right here at Chef Leticia.

 

Chicken Peperonata

Adapted from Giada’s Italy

Serves 4

 

¼ cup olive oil

4 chicken thighs (about 2 lbs)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 anchovy fillet or ½ teaspoon anchovy paste

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into thin strips

1 shallot, diced small

½ cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup dry bread-crumbs

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

 

Pre-heat the oven to 425F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Dry the chicken very well with paper towels and season evenly on both sides with ¾ of teaspoon of kosher salt.  Place the thighs in the hot pan, skin-side down, and cook without moving for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip the thighs and cook an additional 3 minutes. Transfer the thighs to a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160F.

While the chicken roasts, place the same pan over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the anchovy and mash it with the back of a wooden spoon until it dissolves into the oil. Add the bell pepper and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt to the pan and cook, stirring often for 5 minutes, until cooked through and soft. Stir in the shallots and cook an additional minute. Add the olives, capers, and oregano to the pan and stir to combine.

Sprinkle the bread-crumbs over the pepper mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the bread crumbs have soaked up all the flavored oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread-crumbs are toasted and the flavors have married, about another 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Spook the bread-crumb mixture onto a platter. Top with the chicken thighs and drizzle with any accumulated juices from the baking sheet.

 

More Chicken and Italian Recipes:

Chicken With Mushroom Sauce

Veal Scaloppine

Melon with Prosciutto Di Parma

Penne A la Vodka

 

I’m so happy that you visited today!

Make sure to share this story with someone who cares about this topic.

You can buy my cookbooks on Amazon: Latin Superfoods is my latest cookbook.

I’m also the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook.

Visit my YouTube Chanel @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz

 

I’d love to connect with you! Follow my food adventures on social media!

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See you next time!

Leticia

 

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