Saturday, January 29, 2011

RECIPE - Brazil Nut Brownies (Brownie de Castanha-do-pará)

One very typical American baked treat that Brazil has taken entirely to heart (and to the stomach) is the brownie. They don't even bother to translate it - brownie in English is brownie in Portuguese. With the national love of chocolate and of sweets, it's no wonder that brownies pop up everywhere here in Brazil - on restaurant dessert menus, on dessert tables at fancy feasts and parties, and at fine bakeries everywhere.

This recipe has slightly Brazilianized the standard American brownie recipe by substituting Brazil nuts (castanha-do-pará) for the more usual walnuts or pecans. The recipe calls for a large amount of these nuts - 2 lbs - so making these brownies isn't cheap. The yield, however, is 16 portions, so the per portion cost isn't exorbitant. You could, of course, reduce the cost by buying unshelled Brazil nuts - though, as anyone who's every tried to crack open a Brazil nut can tell you, shelling 2 lbs of those shells of steel is not childs' play. Fortunately, Brazil nuts are relatively cheap here in Brazil, even the shelled ones, so self-shelling really isn't worth the time and effort.

(NOTE: Please read comments to this post about possible problems with this recipe. Until I've checked the source recipe and confirmed quantities, do NOT follow this recipe. I'll update the post as soon as possible.)
RECIPE - Brazil Nut Brownies (Brownie de Castanha-do-pará)
Serves 16 portions

10 large eggs (free-range if possible), at room temperature
4 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 lbs (1 kg) bittersweet baking chocolate
4 cups (2 lbs) unsalted butter
2 cups crème fraîche or sour cream
2 lbs (1 kg) shelled Brazil nuts
4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat over to 200C (400F). Generlously butter a 9x9 baking pan.

In a stand-mixer or in a large bowl with a cake mixer beat the eggs and sugar for 10 minutes at medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Break up the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler or over boiling water with the butter and crème fraîche or sour cream. Remove from heat, let cool and reserve.

Chop the Brazil nuts into coarse chunks in a food processor. Don't overprocess. Mix them with the flour.

In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and egg mixture, then the hot melted chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix completely. Then fold in the flour and nut mixture, a bit at a time, until you have a homogenous mixture.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking pan, and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the mixture comes out clean. Remove from the heat and let cool in the pan, set on a wire cake rack.

Cut into 16 serving pieces and serve, dusted with confectioner's sugar if desired.

Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brazileira by Abril Editora.


  1. the sizes of these measurements seem that they would produce a batter that would be too much for a 9x9 pan. I usually cook brownies in an 8x8 with about a 5th of the amounts listed here. Have you tested this recipe?

  2. Thank you very much for the comment Corrine. I've been traveling and just now spotted your comment. I've temporarily flagged the recipe as unreliable to avoid anyone running into trouble trying to follow it. I'll check my source material, and correct if needed. I suspect that I might have made an error in translating from metric to imperial measurements, as the original recipe was metric.

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