Cassava cakes with tonka bean caramel | “Bolinho de tapioca com toffee de cumaru”

I have great affection for this recipe because it reminds me a lot of my childhood, whenI used to go to my grandmother’s house for the weekend. She prepared these little cakesin the morning and an unforgettable aroma always came out of the oven. The recipe iseasy. We added to this version a caramel sauce made with cumaru, known in Englishas tonka bean – anaromatic Amazonian seed used in folk medicine and perfumery,and now also used for cooking.

Makes 10


Tonka bean caramel

500ml single cream

500g caster sugar

2 tonka bean pods or vanilla pods

100g unsalted butter

¼ tsp sea salt flakes

Cassava cakes

Oil, for greasing

470g farinha de tapioca or Farinha de Tapioca Substitute

45g butter, at room temperature

70g caster sugar

30g queijo de coalho or halloumi, grated

2 pinches of salt

500ml whole milk

1 free-range egg

1 tsp fennel seeds


To make the caramel, melt the sugar slowly in a heavy based stainless steel saucepan. In a separate saucepan, heat the cream to scalding point. When the sugar has turned to a golden caramel, or reached 170°C on a sugar thermometer, pour the hot cream into it and add the tonka bean pods.Continue cooking until the caramel sauce coats the back of a spoon, then remove the pan from the heat.Stir the butter and sea salt flakes into the sauce, then transfer to a blender and process for 2 minutes. Pass the caramel through a sieve. Leave to cool, then store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Next make the cassava cakes. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), gas mark 4, and oil a large baking sheet.In a large bowl, combine the tapioca flour with the butter, sugar, cheese and salt.In a saucepan, heat the milk to 80°C and pour it over the flour mixture. Stir well, then leave to stand for about 30 minutes.When the mixture has cooled, add the egg and fennel seeds and mix well.

Shape the dough into balls the size of golf balls, then put them on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Serve the cakes while still warm with some of the reheated caramel.

Tips from Thiago

“If substituting halloumi for queijo de coalho, omit the salt in the cake batter. This recipe can also be served with Tapioca and Vanilla Ice Cream or plain vanilla ice cream.”

Peach palm fruit with a rice paper skin | “Pupunha com pele de arroz”

Peach palm fruit are a staple food for the people of Pará and other Amazonian regions. However, when raw they contain peroxidase enzyme, which inhibits the digestion of protein and can cause irritation to the mouth. In order to make them delicious and harmless, the peach palm fruits have to be cooked in boiling water for at least 20 minutes to deactivate this enzyme.

Serves 2


250g fresh whole peach palm fruit (see tips, below)


80g butter

2 rice paper wrappers

Pinch of ground coffee beans


Put the peach palm fruit in a saucepan with 60g of salt and enough cold water to cover. Boil for 40-50 minutes or until fork tender.

Drain the fruit, peel and cut in half, saving the seeds. Purée the fruit pulp in a blender with 100ml of fresh water. Transfer to a bowl, taste and add salt as necessary, then set aside. Peel and discard the black skin that surrounds the seeds. Chop the white contents on a cutting board and set aside. Heat the butter in a frying pan until it turns golden brown. Add the chopped seeds and coffee, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat 1 litre of water in a saucepan. Lay the rice paper wrappers side by side in a baking tray. When the water is hot but not boiling, pour it over the rice paper wrappers and leave them to soak for 20 seconds or until malleable.Transfer the wrappers to a clean tea towel to drain. Place a heaped tablespoon of peach palm fruit purée on each serving plate and arrange a rice paper wrapper over the top. Drizzle with a little browned butter and sprinkle with the chopped seeds and ground coffee to serve.

Tips from Thiago

Found in Latin food stores, peach palm fruit is also sold brined as pejivalles or chontaduros. If you cannot find them, substitute the fruit with winter squash or pumpkin (such as hokkaido), and the seeds with pumpkin seeds. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), gas mark 4, put the pumpkin seeds in a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, season to taste with salt, then coarsely chop them. Add to the browned butter and proceed as above.

Brazilian Foodby Thiago Castanho & , published by Mitchell Beazley, £