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Brazilian Pave (No Bake Vanilla Cake)

Maria brand digestive biscuits for Brazilian pave

Pavé is a traditional dessert in Brazil. It is made with layers of cream or custard and digestive biscuits soaked in brandy. You can add additional layers of fruit, chocolate, or coconut to make it extra special. One of the best things about Brazilian pavé is that it requires no baking and you can make it ahead of time so you are free to mingle with guests.

What Does “Pavé” Mean?

The layers of the pave cake are said to resemble the latticework of cobblestone streets or walkways. The word “pavé” itself is from the French, meaning “paved.” 

Pave vs Trifle

You might notice some similarities between the Brazilian pavé and a traditional English trifle. Both desserts layer cookies with cream or custard. The trifle, however, usually incorporates sponge cookies, or “lady fingers.” Some versions of pavé may also use lady fingers, but digestive biscuits are more common. Traditional pavé also does not have the layers of fruit found in most trifle recipes. 

Additionally, trifle is often served in a special dish: a large bowl set atop a stem with a base. It resembles a large goblet or wine glass. Pavé is a shallower dessert and does better in a standard baking dish or casserole. 

What Are Digestive Biscuits?

Digestives, or digestive biscuits, are a kind of semi-sweet cookie popular in many parts of the world. They originated in Scotland in the 19th century as a means of aiding in digestion (hence the name). It was thought that the use of baking soda gave the biscuits an antacid property, while malt extract aided in the breakdown of starch. 

Today, the digestive is more popular as a  tea-time biscuit: perfect for dunking in a sweet cup of Earl Grey in the afternoon. 

You can find digestives in most grocery stores in the US. The Maria cookies in today’s recipe are typically found in the international aisle, along with other favorites from Mexico. You can also find them online. 

Brazilian Pave Recipe


5 cups milk
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon brandy
2 tsp vanilla extract
40 or so Maria cookies (or other digestive biscuits)
1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
1.5 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup shredded, toasted coconut (optional)


  1. In a large saucepan, whisk together 3 cups milk, 2 cans sweetened condensed milk, the 4 egg yolks, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. 
  2. Heat the mixture over medium-high until it reaches a rolling simmer.
  3. Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing another cup of milk and the two tablespoons of cornstarch in a separate bowl or cup. Pour the slurry into the saucepan and whisk to combine. 
  4. Once the custard has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  5. Pour a thin layer of the custard to cover the bottom of a baking dish (half an inch or so).
  6. Mix together the final cup of milk, the brandy, and ½ tsp of vanilla extract. 
  7. Take your Maria biscuits and dunk each in the brandy mixture for a few seconds before layering them over the custard in your baking dish. 
  8. Top the biscuits with another layer of custard, then add another layer of brandy-soaked biscuits. 
  9. Repeat this process until you have four or five alternating layers of biscuits and custard.
  10. Make the whipped cream topping: in the bowl of a stand mixer, put the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Whip with a whisk attachment on high until stiff peaks form.
  11. Top your pavé with whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut, if desired. 
  12. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to one week. 

Other Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Bacalhau com Natas (Salt Cod in Cream)

bacalhau com natas, a portuguese salt cod with cream casserole

Creamy Salt Cod Casserole

If you are looking for an alternative to the traditional roast meats of Christmas dinner, try this creamy, cheesy cod fish dish. Originally from Portugal, bacalhau com natas is a one-pan feast with salted cod, potatoes, cream, and plenty of cheese. Buttery, savory, and with a hint of warming spices, it is comfort food at its finest. We top it with olives and boiled eggs for a true Brazilian twist.

Bacalhau in Brazil

Salted cod fish, or bacalhau, is very popular in Brazil, where it is featured in numerous traditional recipes. You may be familiar with the famous fritters known as bolinhos de bacalhau, a particular favorite during Rio’s Carnival. It is also the main ingredient in a casserole called Bacalhau a Gomes de Sá, which is similar to today’s recipe but omits the cream sauce and cheese. 

Cod fish dishes, collectively known as bacalhoadas, are also the traditional meal of Good Friday in many parts of Brazil. As a largely Catholic nation, the majority of observers choose to abstain from eating meat. Fish, on the other hand, is acceptable, and bacalhau is by far the favorite. 

Today’s bacalhau de natas is simple enough for a weeknight meal, but also special enough for a holiday get-together. It is also a fast alternative to traditional holiday roasts that take hours to prepare. The casserole comes together in minutes and finishes in the oven in under half an hour!

Preparing Bacalhau

Salt cod needs to be soaked in cold water for at least six hours before being used in any recipe. This not only plumps up the dried fish but also removes a lot of the excess salt. Trust us, you won’t want to put dried bacalhau directly into a recipe-it is tough and extremely salty!

Do I Have to Use Salted Cod Fish?

No, you can substitute fresh or frozen cod fish in this recipe and it will still be quite good! Just take into account that you will need to adjust the salt level and prepare the fish slightly differently. Fresh or frozen fish will be better baked as opposed to simmered in water. Bake until just flaky and then fry according to the recipe below. 

Bacalhau com Natas (Salt Cod with Cream Recipe)


4 Potatoes (peeled and sliced)
2 lbs of dried, salted cod fish  (soaked overnight in cold water)
1 Onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of Garlic (minced)
½ cup of diced green onions
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2.5 cups milk
1.5 cups heavy cream
1.5 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup sliced green olives
6 hard boiled eggs
Fresh nutmeg
1.5 tsp salt (or more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Rinse the cod fish and place in a saucepan. Cover it with hot water and bring to a simmer. Simmer on medium for about five minutes. Strain the fish and set aside on paper towels.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a baking dish with olive oil.    
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Fry the potato slices in batches until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add them to the bottom of your greased casserole dish. 
  5. Fry the salted cod in the same pan until crisp and flaky. Remove and drain excess grease on paper towels. Put the cooked fish in a layer over the potatoes in the casserole dish. Sprinkle the fish layer with sliced green olives. 
  6. Using the same pan, melt the two tablespoons of butter and saute your diced onion until just translucent. Add in your garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  7. Add in the flour and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  8. Now, slowly add in your milk and fresh cream. Whisk to fully incorporate and bring to a boil. The mixture should thicken to a bechamel sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of fresh nutmeg (remember that the salt and cheese will be salty, so don’t be reserved with the additional salt).
  9. Pour the sauce over the fish and potatoes in the casserole dish. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. 
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for twenty minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. 
  11. Garnish with halved boiled eggs and green onions. Enjoy with crusty bread or white rice. 

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:

Coconut Curry Shrimp

Brazilian Curry With Shrimp (Xinxim)

coconut curry shrimp with an earthenware bowl

As you may know, much of Brazil’s cuisine is steeped in African traditions, especially in the Bahian region of the country. Today’s recipe is a warming, flavorful shrimp curry, featuring traditional Bahian ingredients, like peanuts, okra, and coconut milk. The resulting taste is not dissimilar to the creamy, spicy curries of Thailand. Brazilian xinxim with shrimp is delightful on its own, but it is especially good served over fluffy, white rice. 

What is Xinxim?

Xinxim is an African term used to describe a stew. It is different from a moqueca, which has a distinct red coloring thanks to the use of dende oil, tomato, and annato powder. Xinxim incorporates similar seasonings, such as cumin and chiles, but also adds a silky richness in the form of crushed peanuts and coconut milk (coconut milk is optional in a moqueca). Fresh okra thickens the stew and lends a distinct, gumbo-like texture and flavor. 

The protein you use in your xinxim is up to you. You can have xinxim de galinha (chicken stew), xinxim de peixe (fish stew), or use a combination. Brazilians like to combine chicken thighs and shrimps for a particularly satisfying curry. 

Can You Make a Vegan Brazilian Curry?

Of course! You can simply omit the shrimp and add more bell peppers and potatoes to your stew to thicken it up. Some chickpeas and sweet green peas wouldn’t go amiss, either! Also, don’t forget to sub the fish stock with vegetable stock. Then you will have a perfectly delicious, vegan coconut curry.

Prawns vs Shrimp for Coconut Curry

Today, we are making xinxim de camaraoes (Shrimp Coconut Curry). In Portuguese,  camaro is used to describe both shrimp and prawns. However, the two shellfish are not the same thing. Aside from various anatomical differences, the two species are found in different environments. Shrimp live predominantly in salt water, while prawns are typically found in freshwater. Prawns also tend to be larger than shrimp, although this is not always the case.

Nutrition and taste-wise, prawns and shrimp are pretty much interchangeable. Both are an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and do well in similar recipes. If there is one you prefer, feel free to use it in today’s recipe. Shrimp are often easier to find in the US, and they also have fewer legs to remove, so we will be using these. 

Cassava or Potatoes for Xinxim?

We are using diced potatoes in our shrimp coconut curry recipe. However, you can certainly substitute the same amount of peeled and diced cassava root. In fact, you would probably have a more authentic recipe on your hands if you did! We just like the texture that the potato lends to the stew. But the nutty flavor of cassava would complement the earthy taste of this curry just fine. 

Brazilian Shrimp Coconut Curry Recipe


12 oz shrimp, peeled and de-veined
½ cup peanut butter
8 oz fish stock
1-2 tsp salt
8 oz unsweetened coconut milk
2 limes
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 green chili, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of fresh okra, diced (about 8 pods)
1-2 tablespoons peanut oil
Fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add in a good drizzle of peanut oil, then cook the onions, red bell pepper, and green chili until tender and fragrant (3 minutes). Add in the garlic and cook until just fragrant (under 1 minute).
  2. Add in the diced potatoes, fish stock, peanut butter, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes). 
  4. Stir in the peeled shrimp and fresh okra. Allow the stew to cook just until the shellfish are pink and tender (just about 3-4 minutes). 
  5. Taste for seasoning and add in salt as needed. 
  6. Squeeze in the juice of two fresh limes and stir in a good handful of fresh, chopped cilantro. 
  7. Serve piping hot over steamed rice and garnished with fresh lime wedges and more cilantro and toasted peanuts, if desired. 

What Happens if My Stew Isn’t Thickening?

The fresh okra and potatoes should help your curry to thicken. However, if you are finding your stew too runny, you can thicken it up further with a coconut slurry. Start with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and two tablespoons of water. Mix together in a small bowl and pour this into your stew. Bring to a boil. Continue this ratio until desired thickness is attained. 

Happy Holidays from Texas de Brazil

Struggling to find the perfect gift for someone special? Visit our online Butcher Shop for all things churrasco-related. Choose from gift cards, a beautiful gaucho knife, or a premium selection of gaucho-style meats (including our signature picanha) delivered right to your door. Go online today to check off the rest of your Christmas list. 


Grog Recipe (Quentao)


spiced grog in mugs by a fire

Brazilian Spiced Cachaca

When the air begins to chill, delicious food and warming drinks beckon. From hot apple cider to rich hot chocolate, winter is the season for a mug of something sweet and comforting. When you are looking for something a little stronger to warm your bones, try this recipe for grog from brazil. Simple but delicious, it is certain to become your new wintertime favorite. 

What is Grog?

The term “grog” originated in the mid-eighteenth century. It was used to describe the rations of watered-down rum that were given to sailors in the Royal Navy. The watering down of the rum served two purposes: to provide sailors adequate and unspoiled hydration, and to minimize the inebriating effects of undiluted alcohol. 

Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, the commanding officer responsible for this particular libation, happened to wear a coat made of grogram cloth. He was often referred to as “Old Grog” by his crew, who were probably somewhat dismayed by the new and decidedly un-fun rations. 

Grog vs Glogg vs Wassail

Although the term was originally used to define the watered down rum rations, grog is now often synonymous with other spiced winter time drinks, such as glögg and wassail. 

Glögg is a Swedish mulled wine, similar to gluhwein or quentao de vinho in Brazil. This is not to be confused with grogg, another Swedish word that can represent any number of punches involving alcohol, juice, and/or soft drinks. 

Like grog, wassail has its origins in Great Britain. It was traditionally a hot, spiced cider or ale drunk while performing the holiday tradition of Wassailing. This ritual varied from village to village but usually involved drinking and toasting to the health of the apple trees to ensure a good harvest the next Autumn. 

Brazilian Grog

Brazilian grog (called “quentao”) is most similar to glogg, except it substitutes wine with cachaca. Cachaca is the prized national drink of Brazil, used in various libations such as the caipirinha. It is often likened to rum, since both are prepared from sugarcane. There is a distinctive difference in flavor however. This is owed to the fact that cachaca is prepared from fresh, pressed sugarcane juice, while rum is prepared from molasses. 

Our recipe for grog from Brazil incorporates the warming, festive spices of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, finished with a twist of lime for a truly Brazilian flavor. When made correctly, this grog is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and it’s sure to become your new favorite winter drink. 

Grog Recipe 


1 liter of cachaca
12 oz water
1.5 cups of sugar*
1 stick of cinnamon
6 cloves
1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
1 lime 


  1. Add your sugar and water to a large stock pot or saucepan. Heat over medium until the sugar and water have dissolved into a simple syrup. 
  2. Stud your lime slices with the cloves and place the slices in the syrup. Add in the cinnamon and fresh nutmeg. 
  3. Let the mixture simmer on low (covered) for twenty minutes, to allow the spices to infuse.
  4. Now add in your cachaca. Heat over medium low until hot. Do not boil, unless you want to lessen the alcohol percentage. 
  5. Ladle your Brazilian grog into mugs and garnish with fresh limes and cinnamon sticks. 

*You can add more or less sugar, depending on your desired level of sweetness.                      


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