Archive | February, 2013

Olhas da Sogra (Eyes of Mother-in-Law)

9 Feb


This is a recipe for Brazilian candy, prunes filled with a mixture of sugar, eggs, and coconut. I first tasted this in Boulder, Colorado, at a Brazilian-style birthday party  for my friend Sandra. We met Sandra and her husband Rene through a random event; they were lost, trying to find their new apartment  in married student housing at the University of Colorado, where we had lived for a whole week. I heard them speaking an unknown language outside the window, so we went outside, helped them find their apartment, and then we all set off to buy groceries, and became life-long friends. For the next two years, we attended cookouts and parties with Brazilian students at the University of Colorado, though we didn’t understand a word of the Portuguese spoken all around us. Rene and Sandra experienced their first snow storm and their first Thanksgiving with us. After Sandra and Rene returned to Brazil, we stayed in touch.  I used Sandra’s recipe to make  “Eyes of Mother-in- Law”  candies for holidays and parties, and even as a Passover dessert. And always with “saudades” for Sandra and Rene. A second random event nearly 20 years later brought another Braziliam into our lives when the International Student Services Office at the University of Kansas assigned us to be  “host family” to Mauro, from Rio de Janeiro. He quickly became a permanent part of the family. When he came to our house for  his first Thanksgiving, I surprised him with “Eyes of Mother-in-Law”, served alongside the pumpkin pie.

So here’s the recipe for Olhas da Sogra (Eyes of Mother-in-Law):

Prepare the prunes. This recipe is for about 1 lb of pitted prunes.  Cut each prune in half lengthwise and set aside.

Make the filling: Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add 6 egg yolks and 2 cups of sugar, continuing to stir over low heat until the mixture is well combined, and thick. Add 2 1/2 cups of shredded coconut, a little at a time. Keep stirring as you add the coconut. The mixture will pull away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from heat.

Fill each prune half with about 1 tsp of the sugar/coconut mixture. You can use the tip of a teaspoon to open up the prune half, and then just add the mixture to the prune and press it into place.  The candy is the shape of a little eye (hence the name).  You can roll the candies in granulated sugar to keep them from sticking together.

Alternative versions:

Sandra also makes a version that substitutes 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk for the sugar, but the rest of the recipe is the same.  It is equally delicious!

Dairy-free version: use margarine instead of butter, which is what I do when I want to make the recipe for Passover so it will be pareve (neither milk nor meat).

Reduced sugar version:  For the sugar, substitute 1 c Splenda Baking Blend (half sugar/half Splenda); use unsweetened coconut and add and extra half cup (3 cups instead of 2 and 1/2). Taste is indistinguishable from original.

No sugar added version:  Substitute 1 c Splenda for the sugar and use 3 cups unsweetened coconut as above. As the mixture cooks, it  may seem to separate. DO NOT PANIC. Keep stirring like mad and begin to add the coconut, which will help the mixture  stay together.  Let this mixture cool for about 15 minutes before stuffing the prunes. The taste and texture of the no-sugar-added version are a bit different from the original recipe but still delicious and appreciated by those who have to limit their sugar.  For a big party, you might make a small batch of the no-sugar-added version.

Caution: despite the unlikely combination of ingredients, these are delicious, even addictive.  But keep in mind that you are eating prunes!

Original recipe by Sandra Fontoura Queiroz de Pina; sugar-free version adapted by Randa Dubnick;

Written and illustrated by Randa Dubnick

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