Brazil: Biscoitos de Maizena
Approximately one million native Indians lived in Brazil when the first Portuguese explorers arrived early in the 16th century. Beginning in 1538, almost 5 million Africans arrived before the abolition of slavery in 1888. Portuguese immigrants were followed by Italians, Germans, Syrians, and Lebanese. Asians arrived during the 1930's.
This population mixture has created a national cooking style marked by profound differences. The Brazilian cuisine did not eliminate its identity in the process. Rather, the distinct contribution of each of these groups is still apparent in many Brazilian dishes today
In the Brazilian cuisine, a lot of interesting desserts and sweets are being prepared in a specific and rather interesting way. For instance, avocado is sweetened and used as part of the dessert dishes, as creme de abacate (avocado cream). Meringue is another delicious Brazilian dessert, usually made with strawberries and a lot of whipped cream.
Cookies and solid sweets are very popular in the Brazilian cuisine and are preferred not only by children, but by grown-ups as well. Among them, Biscoitos de Maizena (cornstarch cookies) are the most delicious ones and have a typical vanilla flavor. These melt-in-your-mouth treats are so named because Maizena is the brand name for cornstarch in Brazil. Biscoitos de Maizena are sold in cellophane bags and are readily available in most grocery stores and pastry shops throughout Brazil.
Biscoitos de Maizena (Cornstarch Cookies)
2 cups cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbs) unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Sift cornstarch, sugar and salt together, mix the egg and blend in the butter. Knead well. Let stand ten to fifteen minutes.
Roll into 1-inch balls in the palm of your hand and drop them onto a greased cookie sheet. Use the tines on a fork to make grooves on the cookies and flatten them slightly. Alternatively, you can use a cookie press.
Bake for approximately seven minutes. Let cool and serve with a wonderful cup of Brazilian coffee in the afternoon.
Recipe courtesy of Maria-Brazil.