One of the world’s top fruit and sugar cane exporters, Brazil has a long and respectable tradition of satisfying the most avid ones for sweets. Tropical fruits bring vibrancy, passion, and intense flavors to the sweeter side of our cuisine. The diversity of sweets expanded during the colonial period (1500-1822) in line with the growth in sugar production. After that, each Brazilian region has developed typical recipes according to the ingredients found in each location.
With various fruits growing in abundance in our territory, it is easy to see why there are so many sweet treats with this tropical touch. What could be more irresistible than the crisp crust and chewy moist inside of a fresh coconut candy? Maybe some creamy passion fruit mousse? If you like to be challenged, the perfect match of guava jam with cheese, our famous “Romeo and Juliet,” can be the right choice.
Some of these recipes became part of Brazilian culture and a tradition in all kinds of celebrations, such as birthday parties and weddings. However, they are often served with coffee as little treats after a weekday lunch or afternoon tea—commonly named “café da tarde.” The good news is that some of the most famous and delicious ones are quick and very easy to prepare, as you can see below:
Cocada (coconut candy bar)
Cocada refers to a traditional coconut candy prepared with freshly grated coconut, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk. It is typical of the Northeastern region but can be found and bought as street food practically everywhere in Brazil. When baked, it is slightly chewy on the inside with a crispy crust. Prepared with few ingredients and ready in minutes, cocada can also be cooked and served in a creamy version (“cocada cremosa“).
Mousse de maracujá (passion fruit mousse)
This delicate and fresh mousse is amongst the most famous and easiest to do Brazilian dessert recipes. It is a burst of flavors with fresh, sweet, and tangy taste in every bite. It is prepared by simply blending and refrigerating sweetened condensed milk, fresh cream, and passion fruit—although sometimes it also includes gelatin or even sugar. It is bright in color and flavor, perfect for summer and dinner parties.
Bananada (banana candy bar)
It is a far more consistent form of compote and a great way to enjoy bananas that were already too ripe to eat. In Brazil, you will find bananada in grocery stores, bakeries, street vendor stalls, and sometimes even in sugar-free versions. In some locations in the Southeast region, especially in Rio de Janeiro state, it is also known as “mariola.”
Goiabada (guava jam)
Native to tropical regions of the Americas and growing all over our country, guava trees bear fruits with very strong perfume, lumpy rind, and red or white pulp. The fruits are used to prepare goiabada (jam or paste), goiabada “cascão” (a more chunky version, with bigger guava bites), juices, jellies, and sauces. For the authentic Brazilian experience, you can try the perfect match: goiabada with cheese, popularly known as “Romeo and Juliet.”
Compota de frutas (fruit compote)
Do you want to learn a trick for fruit never to spoil? Make jam with it! In Brazil, virtually any fruit can be sweetened and put in a jar. Green papaya, guava, fig, pumpkin, and jabuticaba are quite common throughout Brazil. For each fruit, there is one or more delicate recipes, finished with lemon juice, cinnamon, and maybe some other family secret. One of Brazil’s favorites is the pumpkin-coconut compote.