Tag Archives: Brazil

Mom’s Clericot

26 May

It was with my mother that I’ve learned to appreciate a refreshing “clericot”.  This is a drink the British took to South America as “claret cup”, which later became “clericot”.  According to Darcy O’Neal it was the punch of choice for parties and the drink most enjoyed by the British in the 1800’s.   It’s very similar to the Spanish “sangria” and it basically consists of wine with some sort of fruit and a sweetener (usually white sugar).  Hundreds of different “sangria” and “clericot” recipes can be found on the net.  Actually in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, as far as I know, the main difference between “sangria” and “clericot” is that the later is prepared with white wine (regular and/or sparkling), while in the former reds are used.

This was my mom’s choice drink for Christmas Eve (remember that Christmas is during the Brazilian summer), and she had her own recipe, which included diced fruits (mainly fresh apples and canned peaches – thus you don’t need to add the sugar), 1 bottle of Champagne, 1 bottle of white wine (usually a Riesling), 1 bottle of sparkling mineral water and lots of ice.

A few weeks ago I was offering a Sunday lunch for some friends and decided to try something different (at least it was completely different for me).  The idea was to transform my mom’s “clericot” recipe into a dessert.

What I did, and you can try it too, was to dissolve 2 powdered neutral gelatin envelopes in 2 cups of cold water and waited it to hydrate for a couple of minutes.  I then added 1 1/2 cups of sugar and heated the mixture until the gelatin and the sugar dissolved completely (you must be careful not to overcook the gelatin, after all it’s a protein).  I then transferred it to a large bowl and added 1 bottle of Champagne (in fact I used a Spanish cava) and 1 bottle of Chardonnay.  I gently mixed everything (gently, as you won’t want to lose all the gas) and took the mixture to the refrigerator.  All this was done one day ahead.

Just before serving I diced several canned peach slices, scraped the gelatin with a fork, and arranged them (almost in layers) in white wine glasses.

Clericot gelatin

I have no reason to be modest, then let me tell you, the result was excellent.  You could even feel the bubbles as the gelatin melted in your mouth and the wines filled your tongue and palate with their distinctive and refreshing flavors.  My mom sure would have loved it.

Just remember, the alcohol is still there, thus there goes a piece of advice:  go easy on it and keep your kids away.

Clericot Gelatin

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“Fenadoce” in Pelotas, Southern Brazil – A Sweet Adventure

15 Jun

Until next June 21, the city of Pelotas, once a leading center in the production of a salt dried meat called “charque” (I will surely write a bit about that on another occasion), is holding its annual “Feira Nacional do Doce” – FENADOCE (something like a National Fair on Sweets) based specially on traditional Portuguese recipes.  Clearly, something not to be missed, if you enjoy sugar in its several forms and presentations.  Thus, last weekend I drove about 60 km with my family to taste some of the most delicious sweets they  have available for the near 300,000 people who visit the fair annually.

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Among my favorite sweets are the crystallized (or candied) fruits, specially figs.  A small factory was set up inside the fair so that you could follow their industrial preparation, which in fact is not very different from what you can do at home.  The central ideia of the process is to make the fruit absorb sugar to saturation point preventing the growth of microorganisms.  The fruits can then be kept in dried places for quite a long time.

Fenadoce in Pelotas/Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit, peaches in this case

You will need a large pan and about 5 kg of green figs, 4 kg of sugar, some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water.  Wash the figs, cover them with water, add 2-3 spoons of baking soda, and bring to boil for about 30 min.  Drain the water and wash the figs.  Prepare a syrup with the sugar and water just enough to cover the fruits, and then boil them for about 2-3 hours.  I usually add one small piece of cinnamon and a couple of cloves to the syrup. Let the fruits cool down in the syrup and reserve until the next day, so that they have plenty of time to absorb the sugar.  In the next day bring to boil again for another 2-3 hours. Let them cool once again in the syrup and then remove the fruits and put them to dry on a sieve for another day. After dried pass the fruits in crystal sugar and return them back the sieve for another couple of hours.  Repeat the last step once or twice until the fruits are fully dried and covered with the crystal sugar.

Crystallized (candied) figs

Crystallized (candied) figs

You can try the same basic recipe with other fruits, like peaches, bananas, etc (if the fruit is large cut it in small pieces).  I guarantee the final result is worth the effort.

Crystallized (candied) peaches

Crystallized (candied) peaches

If you happen to be in Brazil in June don’t miss the next FENADOCE, which, as I’ve already pointed, is an annual event.

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