While visiting friends in Phoenix, we had brunch at Chico Malo. For now, it is just the local Mexican/South American restaurant around the corner but keep an eye on this one. The Group that owns it is about to explode on the scene. Chico Malo literally means “bad boy” in Spanish. The menu is only good things but with a bad boy edge. The food was AMAZING!! Each item on the menu sounded better than the next. I loved that they aren’t trying to re-invent who they are with a whole new menu, for brunch. There are things like burritos and Chimichangas and in some cases, they turn those up.
Everything we ordered was great, but I can’t get my mind off the Nana Marcella’s Drunken French Toast. I’m going to do my best to duplicate. The presentation was so beautiful and the melding of flavors so incredible. The long pieces of baguette and caramelized bananas were stacked as if building a campfire. I learned from the menu that the bread had been soaked in a tres leches bath that not only enhanced the flavor but softened the tough crust to make it easy to cut with a fork. The 5-spice butter was the perfect balance of flavors to cut the fat in the butter while giving a blend of spices that danced all around my tongue, finally landing at the back with just a hint of heat. I had my idea of what the spices were but a quick visit with the General Manager confirmed allspice, cloves, nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon.
These two hints gave me the start I needed to play mad scientist in the kitchen. I mixed eggs into the tres leches bath and I let the bread soak overnight. I did the same thing with the butter. I played around with amounts of each spice until I felt they all shined but the heat from the cinnamon was what you remembered. And so, I began. A couple of things I would be sure of before I started. When cutting your baguette, make sure your pieces will fit comfortably in the pan. You want them long but not so long that they fall apart when they are in the pan. Have everything you need to “build” the dish ready to go before you start cooking. This dish is better served hot, so don’t waste time getting everything together at the end. I noticed when I looked at the picture of the recipe again that there is a pool of tres leches under the toast then syrup. I ordered the Aged Rum Syrup and piloncillo from Amazon. You can probably get the piloncillo at a Latin market and make your own rum syrup by adding rum to maple syrup and reducing until the right thickness.
This dish was such a decadent start to the day. It was rich and the Mimosa I had helped to ease the richness. This is a great breakfast to share or even multiply for a breakfast buffet.
Unless, you’ve been under a rock, you know that the 2016 Rio Olympics are winding down. They have been really exciting and I have enjoyed watching every moment, that I can. Even when I have not been “watching”, I’ve had my television on in the background, listening. The Today show has made a point of featuring lots of local food and drink each day.
Recently, they showed sweets, a very big deal in Brazil, and they talked about Brigadeiros. My ears perked right up because 4 years ago, at a friend’s baby shower, I was served these delicious Brazilian truffles. I use the term truffle loosely. They are almost like a bite-sized molten chocolate lava cakes, with no cake. When you bite into them they are so smooth and creamy, they ooze creamy goodness; but the sprinkles hold them all together.
While I have asked many times for this recipe, I have never gotten it. The recipe is one of those that each cook has their own spin on, so nobody really gives theirs out. It may also be that it is so easy that it doesn’t seem necessary to share a recipe. I loved, when I saw them, for the first time, they were rolled in pink sprinkles for the baby girl my friend was carrying. You can really customize them to any color. So, I did mine in red, white and blue sprinkles and served them in a gold candy cup. Viva America!
It is your lucky day! I am sharing a recipe. I am sharing a chocolate recipe but stay tuned at the end of the recipe and will share some variations.
Make a slurry of cocoa powder and a tablespoon or two of warm water; add more or less as needed. You are doing this because the cocoa powder doesn't dissolve easily into the butter/milk mixture. You want the slurry to smooth and pliable but not too thin.
Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon, constantly. You are stirring to keep the chocolate moving, so it won't burn. Adjust the heat if you need to.
You are looking for the chocolate to start to reduce and get thicker. This could take up to 20 minutes. When it is thick enough you should be able to pull the spoon through the center and have it stay separated a few seconds. Another test is seeing if it holds on the spoon without immediately falling back into the pot.
Once your mixture is smooth and thick, spread it over a pan or plate and put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to cool through. You want it to be "set up", firm.
When the mixture is set, you are ready to assemble. Start by coating your hands with butter. Keep extra close by, you will need to reapply.
Using a small spoon, or melon baller, scoop a small amount of brigadeiro into your hands and roll into a ball. Roll ball in sprinkles. Cover completely. Place in baking/candy cup.
Repeat until all brigadeiro is used. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to let firm up again, but son't serve too cold.
If you'd like to make a coconut brigadeiro, skip the cocoa powder slurry and instead; add 2 teaspoons light corn syrup and 1/2 cup coconut milk to the sweetened condensed milk/ butter mixture. Once you start your stirring process, add 1/2 cup of shredded coconut and proceed as above.