I hope I translated “crazy persons” or “nuts” correctly as malucos.  If not, I’ll look forward to being corrected.  It’s always nice to be able to define myself in Portuguese.

Brazilian nuts are definitely for poor poets.  They’re buttery smooth and healthy, as well.  Per below, “Brazil nuts are high in selenium, a mineral and antioxidant that has been linked to cancer prevention, mood lifting and immunity support.  Selenium is a resource people don’t get enough of, and isn’t found in many other foods besides garlic.”

A life without nuts?  I think not.  I for one cannot imagine life without espresso as well.  The two go together like…well, like two lovers lying in the toasty sands of Ipanema, with lifted moods.  –SB

The Wall Street Journal


Brazil’s Unsung Nut Gets Some Big Love

The elephant in the tin is a terrific substitute player in cakes, pastries and stews


F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas

Double espresso Brazil nut cake

Brazil nuts are invariably the outcast of the party bowl, the shunned plus-size cousin in the mix.  Despite adding a buttery richness to other snacks—such as chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s granola—their oafish appearance keeps many away.  However, these edible seeds that grow on giant Bertholletia trees throughout South America (and predominantly in the Bolivian Amazon)—are distinctly flavorful and good for you, too.

According to Sarma Melngailis, the all-things-raw advocate behind Manhattan’s Pure Food and Wine restaurant, Brazil nuts are high in selenium, a mineral and antioxidant that has been linked to cancer prevention, mood lifting and immunity support.  Selenium is a resource people don’t get enough of, and isn’t found in many other foods besides garlic.

Charlotte Druckman on Lunch Break discusses Brazil nuts, the elephant in the cocktail mix, and how they mingle deliciously with the right recipes such as Dan Lepard’s Double Espresso Brazil Nut Cake.

Chef Yara Castro Roberts, author of “The Brazilian Table,” notes that the nut isn’t even put to use liberally in the cuisine of its namesake country.  One rare example is Moqueca do Norte, a version of a traditional seafood stew in which the requisite coconut milk is replaced by that derived from the Brazil nut.  You’re more likely to find it in sweet applications, especially in the North region, where the large obloid is a popular foundation for cookies and cakes, or in modern Brazilian dishes, where Ms. Roberts said it can substitute for coconut or macadamias.  She recommends grating the nut over a green salad or adding the milk to a shrimp soup made with tapioca.

The Brazil nut can also be blended into pesto, worked into pie crusts, turned into a rack-of-lamb coating or act as a stand-in for almonds in, say, a romesco sauce or white gazpacho.

British baking expert and columnist Dan Lepard said that he finds “the sweet, almost cream-like flavor of Brazil nuts stands well against white chocolate, cream cheese, chocolate and cinnamon.”  He uses them in brownies, caramel and pound cake.

Mr. Lepard’s new cookbook, “Short & Sweet,” includes a recipe for Double Espresso Brazil Nut Cake:  two nutty, sponge-style layers accompanied by the simplest of coffee-flavored water icing.  It’s best served at tea time, with a cup of whatever leaves—or South American beans—are brewing.

Charlotte Druckman

Double Espresso Brazil Nut Cake

Adapted from Dan Lepard’s “Short & Sweet” (Fourth Estate Ltd.)

Layer Cakes

100 ml milk

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1 tablespoon finely ground roasted coffee beans

6 ounces unsalted butter, softened

3½ ounces soft light-brown sugar

3½ ounces superfine sugar

3 medium eggs

3½ ounces plain flour

3½ ounces rye, spelt or whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2½ ounces Brazil nuts, finely chopped, plus 10 nuts toasted and coarsely chopped (for garnish)

Line two 8-inch Springform cake pans with discs of non-stick parchment paper.  Combine milk, espresso powder and ground coffee in a saucepan and bring to boil.  Remove from heat and leave until warm.  In a stand mixer set to medium speed, beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Beat in coffee-milk mixture until evenly combined.  Lower mixer speed to stir and add both flours and baking powder.  Beat in nuts.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Divide mixture between pans and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out with just a few moist crumbs stuck to it, 20-25 minutes.

Coffee Water Icing

3 tablespoons instant

espresso powder

8 ounces confectioners’ sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons corn syrup (optional; for optimal glossy, smooth texture)

½ teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest

Dissolve espresso powder in 25 ml cold water, or more if needed.  Spoon sugar into a bowl.  Add coffee water, vanilla extract and corn syrup (if using) a little at a time, and stir together.  If more water is needed for consistency, add it cautiously.  Stir in zest.

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