15 October 2012

Palha Italiana

"I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process . . . it may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?" 
Author unknown, but my kind of gal

Palha Italiana, literally "Italian straw." Nothing to do with Italy. Nothing to do with straw. But this ultra decadent Brazilian dessert speaks to the chocoholic in everyone. It's delicious. It's criminal. It's a perfect balance between candy and cookie. It's kind of like the Italian "salame di cioccolato," probably the result of Italian immigration to Brazil, or Turkish Delight cake. It's also very similar to America's very own fudge brownies, as long as the brownies have something added in, like nuts or peanut butter or Oreo cookies. But, still, Palha Italiana is a very Brazilian addiction.

salame di cioccolato
Turkish Delight

Fudge brownies with peanut butter

The ingredients of palha italiana are simple: one carton of sweetened condensed milk, one package of vanilla wafers, 4 TBS powdered chocolate and 2 TBS butter. (The proportions of the last two ingredients are all over the place — some recipes use 8 to ½, some 3 to 2, some 2 to 1 . . . you're on your own here).

Pound the wafers into little pieces and reserve.

Put the condensed milk, the chocolate and the butter into a saucepan and begin mixing over heat. As soon as the chocolate mixture starts to pull away from the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and mix in the wafer pieces. Mix until you have a "dough."

Plop the dough out onto a flat, butter-greased surface. Open the dough up by pounding on it with the palms of your hands. Let cool, cut into rectangles, and watch people devour them.

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