For our first Brazilian recipe of the week, we’re bringing you a classic: cocada. This easy-to-make childhood favorite brings together the main staples of the Brazilian sweet tooth: grated coconut and condensed milk. For the chocoholics, don’t worry! Brazilians have come up with all kinds of inventive ways to incorporate chocolate into their desserts, including this one.
Cocada comes in many forms – burnt cocada, baked cocada, cocada pie – but here we’ll go over three easy flavors. Traditional white cocada, chocolate cocada, and – for those who just never want to leave autumn – pumpkin cocada. All three will need the following basic ingredients:
Grated coconut. You can buy coconuts, drink their delicious water, and then grate the insides. Of course if that’s a bit too labor intensive, you can also just head to your nearest Asian grocer and pick up a bag of pre-shredded coconut. Preferably unsweetened.
Condensed milk. Again, you can simmer milk and sugar together over the stove until it condenses – or you can pick it up at the nearest market. Quick tip: condensed milk shouldn’t be confused with evaporated milk, which does not have the same sugar content.
Besides that, you’ll really just need milk, sugar, and a bit of butter. Additional spices like clove and cinnamon add extra personality, but are completely optional.
Cocada de Leite Condensado
2 cups grated coconut
1 can of condensed milk (395 grams or 1.5 cups)
1 cup of sugar
Throw everything together into a pan over low heat. Mix until the ingredients come together and stop sticking to the bottom of the pan. Mix in a spoonful of butter to add a creamy texture. Pour the mixture into a greased pan, and let cool. Then cut into your favorite shapes, and you’re ready to eat! How easy – and delicious – was that?
Cocada de Chocolate
200ml coconut milk
2 cups sugar
2 whole cloves (to balance out the chocolate flavor)
200g grated coconut (some prefer to use flaked coconut here for finer pieces, which need to be pre-hydrated in boiling water before going into the mix)
200g semi-sweetened chocolate (cut into small pieces)
Mix the coconut milk, sugar, and cloves in a pan on medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the coconut and mix until it stops sticking to the bottom of the pan. Mix in the chocolate pieces until everything melts together. Then pour the mixture into a greased pan for cooling and cutting.
Cocada de Abóbora
1 kg pumpkin
4.5 cups water
3 cups sugar
1.5 cups grated coconut
Peel the pumpkin or squash and take out the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into big pieces and boil with about 3 cups of water until all the liquid has evaporated and the pumpkin is mashable. Put the remaining 1.5 cups of water with the 3 cups of sugar on high heat, mixing continuously until you can spin a thread with the mixing spoon. Mix in the pumpkin, then the grated coconut, again until the mixture comes together and stops sticking to the bottom of the pan. Pour into a greased pan to cool, then cut and eat.
And… that’s it!
Don’t worry if your cocada doesn’t come out exactly like the last piece you had from a Brazilian street vendor. As you’ll find among Brazilians, everyone has their own recipe. Some like to grate their coconut in thick pieces to taste the fruit, while others like the paper-thin pieces that give that coconut taste without the nutty chomp. Feel free to experiment and change up the proportions of coconut, sugar, and extra spices according to your personal taste.
And for those who don’t like condensed milk, here’s one last cocada recipe using just sugar and water.