Wednesday, March 14, 2012

SEPARATED AT BIRTH - Brazil's Coscorão and Scandinavian Rosettes

Scandinavian rosettes
For us here at Flavors of Brazil, one of our absolutely favorite Christmastide treats when we were growing up in northernmost Michigan in the USA were something called rosettes. Alongside shortbread and pfeffernuss, they were proudly served on the Christmas cookie platter and even though everyone was stuffed with other Christmas goodies, it was impossible to resist a rosette - especially knowing that they wouldn't appear again for another year. Rosettes are a traditional Scandinavian Christmas cookie, and they are common in areas in the USA and Canada where there are large communities which share Scandinavian ancestry.

Rosettes are something like a sweet, deep-fried waffle. To make rosettes you need a special decoratively-shaped iron, a thin flour batter, powdered sugar, and oil for deep-frying. Once the batter is ready, the iron is dipped into the hot oil to get hot, then into the batter, then back into the oil. When the waffle is nicely browned, you remove it from the iron and you repeat the process until you've used up all the batter. When the rosettes are cool, you sprinkle them with powdered sugar. They're then ready to serve.

We at Flavors of Brazil have recently been doing some research on the traditional foods of Brazil's Minas Gerais state, where one finds some of Brazil's oldest and most traditional food customs. Our searches led us the other day to the small town of Virginópolis, and its traditional holiday waffle, called coscorão. Which turns out to be nothing other than a Scandinavian rosette, though it has been thoroughly Brazilianized by substituting polvilho (a type of manioc flour) for Scandinavia's wheat flour. Other than that the two delicacies are identical - the thin batter, the decorative iron and the deep-frying.

Brazilian coscorões
Scandinavian rosettes are closely linked to the Christmas season, but the holidays which are connected to coscorões in Virginópolis are the mid-winter festivals called Festas Juninas, held at the end of June. During these festivals, street vendors set up stands on streets and in squares to cook and sell coscorões on the spot, and locals stroll by in the evenings, listening to live music, watching folk dances and sampling the wares of all the food and drink vendors - and one place that's an obligatory stop is the coscorão stand. We're sure that the aroma and the taste of a hot coscorão is as evocative of family and holiday times for residents of Virginópolis as rosettes are for the millions of descendents of Swedes, Norwegians, Finns and Danes in central Canada and the American midwest. But now we're curious - where's the missing link from Scandinavia to the isolated interior of Minas Gerais and from rosettes to coscorões?


  1. You should see what MOM's Christmas Cookie platter has become, but I too love her Rosettes!

  2. One of these years, I'll have to pop in for rosettes!

  3. Hi! I found my way to your blog and all the wonderful recipes and information about Brazilian culture you share there! Wonderful!

    I am from Finland, and for us rosettes are prepared and served not in Christmas (for that we eat ginger bread and puff pastry tarts filled with plum jam), but for May Day (the Labor Day). This year I was too lazy to prepare them so I only did another typical May Day food, Finnish doughnuts :) You can find things that might interest you in my blog too:

    Thanks for writing this great blog, my Brazilian husband is probably happy that I can get inspiration for cooking Brazilian food here ;)

    All the best,