Brazilian Delights!

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

If you've had the chance to check out my author bio, you'll know that I love food, sweets, and cooking. Writing a book always requires tons of research and introduced me to some amazing recipes. This post will be one in a series, covering some of the dishes mentioned in my story, Broken Hearts of Queens, as well as the cultural behind-the-scenes of the characters.

Since my main characters, Joy and Giovanni, attend a culinary program at a vocational school, incorporating their shared passion for all things food was easy. In the first chapter, Joy makes an incredible Brazilian dessert for her class on Cultural Day—pavê de maracujá (passion fruit trifle). This is Joy's favorite childhood dessert and is made from layers of milk-dipped ladyfinger cookies, creamy passion fruit mousse, and passion fruit syrup on top.

Brazil's cuisine is Joy's primary connection to the country since she was born and raised in Queens, New York. After her Brazilian-born grandparents' death, Joy's mom, Faith, cut off all contact with the few relatives they had scattered around the U.S. (Faith's older sisters and their children), and the family left in Brazil. Throughout Joy's life, she's never met anyone from her mom's side. The stark isolation from her roots and culture leads to an identity crisis, which is common for every pre-teen well into adulthood sometimes, but even more so in Joy's case.

This pavê de maracujá represents far more than a connection to Joy's Brazilian roots, though. It's a reminder of the good days, a time when Joy's life was normal, her parents were together, and she thrived in the warmth and stability of their love.

Of course, I needed to try all of the foods I've cited in Broken Hearts of Queens. I'll try to post one each week.

So, how did it turn out?

As a writer, to simply say it was delicious is both underwhelming and obnoxious. I may be obnoxious, but Lord, help me if I were to be underwhelming!

In one word, it was rich. The mousse was creamy, sweet, and tangy. If you've ever had a mango lassi, (an Indian beverage made with yogurt and mango), it tasted very similar to that. The ladyfingers softened to almost a shortcake consistency after four hours of chilling, the perfect complement to the pudding-like texture of the mousse. The passionfruit syrup cut the tanginess (like syrups tend to do), although it didn't turn out as thick as I would've liked. But a light drizzle was all it needed.

I like giving a new recipe a couple of tries. With this trifle, I experimented with two different methods and the simplest recipe, in my and my family's opinions, turned out the best. Both recipes originated from native Brazilians, one currently living in the US and the other still living in Brazil. The lady's recipe who lives here in the States was much more labor-intensive, and I wasn't happy to see the ladyfinger cookies float to the top while poured the mixture over them. (The consistency wasn't nearly as thick as the other one, and it failed to anchor the cookies in place. I might have needed to whip more air into it.)

The second one, pictured at the left, chilled beautifully and took about ten minutes to prepare before I chilled it in the fridge for four hours. I will link the YouTube video below but be warned, it's completely in Brazilian Portuguese. I used Google translate for the words I didn't understand. However, knowing Spanish and a little Italian, helped me along decently. Closed caption helped too.

The best recipe consisted of about eight ingredients in total.

Sour cream (1 cup)

Passion fruit juice concentrate (a little less than a cup)

A can of sweetened condensed milk

These three are mixed in the blender for 2 minutes and set aside.

One package of Ladyfinger cookies (Different cookies may be used.)

Milk (1/2 to 1 cup) *To dip the cookies. Feel free to use any kind of milk you'd like.

Dip the cookies one-by-one into the milk and line your baking dish with enough to fill the bottom. I used a pyrex loaf pan.

Pour a layer of the blended mixture over them and smooth. Add another layer of milk-dipped cookies and another layer of the passion fruit mixture. Repeat until you either run out of space or passion fruit mixture. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

The passion fruit syrup is optional. Personally, I don't think it's needed, but it makes the top look pretty and cuts the tanginess. Or to simplify it, you can use the passion fruit pulp and spoon it over the top of your trifle.

Water (3/4 cup)


Passion fruit pulp (1 cup of fresh or packaged passion) *Asian grocery stores carry packaged if you have a hard time finding it.

For the syrup, add the water, sugar, and pulp in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and it begins to bubble. Set it aside and let it cool.

After the syrup cooled, I chilled it in the fridge and spooned it over the trifle before serving.

Click the link below to watch the originator of this recipe if you prefer to see it made in action. And stay tuned for the next item on the menu, a yummy Italian treat. Can you guess what it'll be?

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