There is a Brazilian version of nearly every dessert you can think of, and donuts are no exception. These bolinhos de chuva are actually closer to a Southern beignet: crisp and golden on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and rolled in a generous coating of cinnamon sugar.
Meaning of Bolinho de Chuva in English
These Brazilian fritters get their name from their signature, tear-drop shape. “Chuva” means rain, or raindrops in Portuguese. The word “bolinho” has numerous translations, from “cookie” to “scone.” It is also used to describe a kind of croquette. Bolinhos de bacalhau, for example, are a croquette made from salted cod and a favorite street food during Carnival.
Beignet vs Donut
We are comparing these bolinhos de chuva to American beignets as opposed to donuts. The difference between a donut and a beignet lies predominantly in the texture, which is due to a slight variation in preparation and ingredients.
Beignets have fewer eggs than donuts and have a lighter, airier texture. They are also traditionally square-shaped and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Donuts have a signature ring shape, are chewier in texture, and glazed to finish.
You will notice that, unlike either an American beignet or donut, these Brazilian bolinhos de chuva do not contain yeast. Instead, the leavening agent used is baking powder. Yeast-free beignets do not require any time to rise and come together in as little as fifteen minutes.
Brazilian Beignets Recipe (Bolinhos de Chuva)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1.5 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
4 cups all purpose flour
Cinnamon sugar for coating
- Heat a large pot of about 3-4 cups of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. (If using a deep-fryer, heat to about 350-360 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Prepare a dish with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Start with about two tablespoons of cinnamon and ¼ cup of granulated sugar. If you need more, you can always make extra.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
- Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and mix to form an even dough. It should be a fairly soft dough, like chocolate chip cookie dough.
- Check the temperature of your oil. If you do not have an oil thermometer, you can test the oil with a small amount of your dough. It should bubble as soon as it hits the oil but there should be no smoke.
- When the oil is ready, form your bolinhos de chuva using two regular soup spoons. Scoop a good amount onto one and then push this out into the oil using the other spoon.
- Fry in batches of six or so. When the beignets are golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon and roll immediately in your cinnamon sugar mixture.
Serve right away plain or with your favorite dipping sauce. These taste especially good with raspberry jam or dulce de leche.
More delicious recipes to try:
- Brazilian Fried Bananas
- Brazilian Lemonade with Condensed Milk (Limonada Suiça)
- Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)
- Brazilian Mulled Wine (Quentão de Vinho)
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