Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chewy and Crunchy Cookies and Chocolate Bites - Palha Italiana

My last post was all about celebrating the late arrival of spring up here in Minnesota. Well, I guess I spoke too early. After just a few days of heat and sunshine, the temperature dropped to around 35 degrees. And to make matters worse, there was a mix of rain and SNOW yesterday. Yes, snow on May 1st. That I had not seen yet. But I have only lived here for about 9 years....I guess there is a lot I don't know about this place. 

So, yesterday, when all was dark and cold, I had to make something that yells comfort food to me (and most Brazilians!) - Palha Italiana. It is pretty hard to translate the name of this recipe to English. But all you need to know is that this is a chewy and crunchy treat with chocolate and cookie flavors. But not any cookie, this recipe calls for a cookie made with corn starch (among other things) that is very popular in Latin America. In Brazil we call it, Biscoito de Maizena. During a trip to the grocery store last weekend I found a similar version at the Mexican food aisle: Marias Gamesa cookies (there is picture of the package bellow). Anyway, the good news is that you can make this recipe just like the original one if you can very few ingredients:

Sweetened condensed milk (any brand):

Marias Cookies (most grocery stores that sell Mexican foods have this),  or Biscoito de Maizena (if you live by a Brazilian food market).

And finally, cocoa powder and butter. You will also need a little bit of granulated sugar to coat the treats later.

So all you have to do is to mix together, sweetened condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder in a heavy bottomed pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down the heat to medium and cook stirring constantly for about 12 minutes, until the mixture is thick and glossy. You know the mixture is ready if you tilt the pan and the whole thing drops in a big blob to the other side of the pan (without sticking to the bottom of the pan).

At that point you can turn off the stove and add the cookies that you broke down in small pieces. My son helped with this:

Stir in the cookies and transfer mixture to a greased (with unsalted butter) baking pan in one uniform layer:

Allow the misture to come to room temperature. Cover it and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. Cut the sweet in small squares:

And coat it in granulated sugar:

And it is done! I keep this treat it in the refrigerator. If you prefer to eat it at room temperature, simply take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving. It is chewy, gooey and crunch and delicious!! Enjoy!!

Palha Italiana
makes about 20 squares 

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
20 Marias cookies, broken in small pieces
granulated sugar for coating

Combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for approximately 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture is thick, glossy and pulls away from the sides and bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat, and add the cookies. Stir is well and transfer mixture to a small baking pan greased with unsalted butter. Make sure to spread mixture in one uniform layer. Cool at room temperature. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 40 minutes to 1 hour until it is hard enough to cut. Cut dessert in equal sized squares, coat squares with granulated sugar and serve. Keep in the refrigerator. Served chilled or at room temperature.


  1. I love condensed milk, I use it in my smoothie...Nice recipe. I should try it.

  2. Looks a bit like salame al cioccolato! Only we don't use condensed milk and cocoa powder, but eggs and real chocolate. The rest is pretty much the same.

    1. Some people believe that this Brazilian dessert was inspired on the salame cioccolato - influence from the Italian immigrants in Brazil!

  3. Another good post in this lovely blog. I'm not a big of cookies and sweets in general I came across this post and the pictures make my mouth already watering...looks so delicious. The pictures are really lovely and the recipe doesn't sound very complicated so that I think even I with my not existing baking skills will be able to make them. If you have a recipe like this which you absolutely want to try but it is not on your language or you not really sure what some words mean use a professional translation service in order to get an accurate translation and you won't miss out on the chance to eat something really delicious.

  4. I think these look great! I am not the greatest chef at all, but I think I have a couple suggestions for some people. I think using Nilla Waffers or crushed Oreos could be VERY good in these cookies. Also I think If you dipped them in chocolate and let them harden that would be very good, or covered them in Nutella! However, I think these could be a great idea for any occasion!

  5. I think nice to watch that boy prepare the chocolate with biscuit. Today i prepare this dish to my home.

  6. I just got back from Brazil and had these while there - they are amazing! Thanks for posting this recipe. I can't wait to make them on my own. Obrigada :)

  7. Philippine pili nuts from the Bicol region in the Philippines is a great Filipino or Philippines food orsnack. Pili nuts are very healthy and nutritious indeed, being a source of energy, potassium and iron.They also have protein, dietary fiber / fibre, and calcium as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  I know they have no cholesterol, no trans fat, and the unsalted ones have no sodium. What is great about the pili nut snack or treat is that they are so crisp, rich, and delicious.

  8. Woow! Yummy Recipes I really love this recipe, and your pictures too keep doing

  9. Comfort food at its best. Easy to make and the children will love it.

  10. Now You can order easily and enjoy the gourmet meal within your budget.

  11. The food looks delicious. Excellent blog

  12. I linked one of your delicious recipes on my most recent blog post.

    Thanks! :) Tina

  13. I Like to read this blog Because it is very impressive and innovative.............................................

  14. This is looking so soo good:) My husband loves chocolates so I am glad I ran over this recipe.

  15. Delicious! I'm also from Brazil and living in the US, and made some paglia italiana yesterday for my Italian class friends. Needless to say, no left overs. Thanks for the tips.


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