What is your favorite dessert? This is a very difficult question to answer for some people. Maybe they like more than one type or maybe, like my husband, they are not really into desserts. I must confess I’m usually a savory over sweet person. I would trade a brownie for some french fries or a slice of (italian) pizza any day! However, there is one dessert that I can’t resist: my grandma’s pavê!
Pavê is a Brazilian dessert that resembles a tiramisu, but oh so much better! They are wonderful no-bake layered desserts, usually made with a combination of cookies or biscuits and different creams and fruits or chocolate. Unlike the tiramisu, the pavê doesn’t usually have coffee and it has only a hint of liquor. There are a lot of different recipes for pavê out there. Some are more simple than mine and some are more sophisticated… There are recipes with other types of cookies/biscuits, there are recipes for strawberry pavê, pineapple pavê, white chocolate pavê, peanut pavê, coconut pavê, ice cream pavê. You name it, someone already invented it! But I can swear to you: I’ve never tasted any pavê better than my grandma’s!
Every time my grandmother serves this dessert, I feel ashamed. I feel ashamed because I cannot stop eating it, to the point where people start judging. I usually eat one piece, then I go for seconds and then I could totally go for thirds but I contain myself so I don’t get those crazy weird looks from my family. But then I discreetly go to the kitchen and I pack some leftovers for later! This has been an issue ever since my childhood… Yes, it’s that good!!! And yes, it’s insanely addicting!
So, since I’ve warned you about the addictive characteristic of this dessert, I now feel more in peace with teaching you how to make it! I’m serious!!! Don’t come complaining to me later if you ate the 12 servings all by yourself.
We’ll start with the bottom layer of the pavê, which is a cream made of sweet condensed milk, milk, corn starch and egg yolks. In a large pot, combine the 2 cans of sweet condensed milk and 3 cans of the milk. (I find it easier to use the sweet condensed milk’s can to measure the milk!) In the 4th can of milk, you stir the 2 tablespoons of corn starch until it’s dissolved and bring it to the pot with the rest of the ingredients. My grandmother says you have to cook it over low heat so nothing sticks to the bottom. I don’t have patience for that. I cook over medium heat but I stir non stop! :) Once the cream is beginning to thicken, pour a ladle of it into a mug and let it cool. (We do this so we can stir the eggs into the cream without cooking the eggs! Nobody wants scrambled eggs in a dessert!) Lower the heat and keep cooking the rest of the cream, stirring occasionally. (If you find that the cream is thickening too fast, just turn the heat off and wait for the egg mixture and then turn it on again.)
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Pass the yolks through a strainer.
Once the reserved cream is cool enough (I usually stick it into the freezer or into a bowl full of iced water – Can’t you tell I’m an impatient person?), stir in the egg yolks and return that mixture to the pot. Cook until the cream thickens. Let it cool a bit and pour it into a 15X10 baking dish. Don’t wash that pot ’cause we are going to use it to make the second layer and the leftover cream that might have stuck to the sides is going to help thicken it.
To make the middle layer, we’re going to need ladyfinger biscuits (They are light, sweet sponge cake biscuits roughly shaped like a large finger!), cognac, milk and cocoa powder.
Place the ladyfingers into a large bowl and two to three tablespoons of the cognac into another smaller bowl. Using your fingers, sprinkle the cognac over the biscuits. This is a very important tip from my grandmother. Instead of soaking the biscuits in cognac and having the cognac overpower the dessert, you just give a hint of it by wetting your fingers and sprinkling it over the biscuits. Give it a good mix using your hands and reserve.
In the same pot where you made the white cream, add 2 cups of milk and 1.5 cups of cocoa powder. Cook until it resembles hot chocolate. It shouldn’t thicken too much. If you feel it’s too thick, add more milk. It has to be a liquid mixture and not a cream.
With tongs, dip each ladyfinger biscuit in the chocolate. Place them on top of the cream mixture, in the baking dish.
Cover your baking dish with foil or plastic and refrigerate it overnight.
The next day, make some whipped cream (heavy cream, 1 cup of confectioners sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract).
Pour the whipped cream on top of the other 2 layers, creating a third layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 more hour before serving. If you want, you can grate some chocolate on top of the pavê to make it look nice! :)
Brazilian Chocolate Pavê
author: Olivia Mesquita
A delicious no-bake layered dessert made with a combination of ladyfinger biscuits, cream and chocolate!
In a large pot, combine the sweet condensed milk and 3 cups of the milk.
Dissolve the corn starch in one cup of milk and add to the pot.
Cook that mixture over low to medium heat, stirring constantly, until it starts thickening.
Separate a cup of the mixture and let it cool.
Add the egg yolks to the cooled cream and return it to the pot.
Cook until it thickens.
Let it cool and pour into a 15x10 baking dish.
Place the biscuits into a large bowl and the Cognac into another smaller bowl.
Using your fingers, sprinkle the Cognac onto the biscuits.
In the same pot you used for the cream, add 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of cocoa powder. Cook until it resembles hot chocolate. (Do not let it thicken. It's supposed to be a liquid mixture, and not a cream!)
Dip the biscuits into the chocolate and place them on top of the cream.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
On the next day, make some whipped cream by mixing the heavy cream, the powdered sugar and the vanilla extract.
Pour the whipped cream into the baking dish, creating a 3rd layer.
Refrigerate for at least 1 more hour before serving.