So. This recipe called for a cup of finely ground Brazil nuts. Which I happened to have in whole, still-in-the-shell form. Exactly one cup. An hour and one painful blister later, they were in the food processor, ready to grind. It turns out the Brazil nut is a tough nut to crack.
Cracking Brazil nuts open is a humbling experience. Just when I thought I’d managed to find the key to extracting a whole nut from the hard-to-crack shell, the next would explode in fragments flying in every direction with bits of nut flesh attached to each. If I wasn’t scraping nut off shell fragments, I was digging nut out of unbreakable shell segments, pulverizing it as I worked. And, it turns out, pulverizing my fingers, too. You’d think the nut oil would have helped with that, but no.
Biscoito de renda Brasileira (Portuguese for Brazilian lace cookies), or Brazil nut wafers according to Sharon Tyler Herbst, are darkly rich, buttery and crisp. The batter (flour, cocoa, white and brown sugars, cinnamon, melted butter, coffee and ground Brazil nuts) isn’t difficult to mix by hand, and its consistency reminded me a lot of no-bake cookies. The small dollops spread whilst baking into thin, lacy wafers that set up on the cookie sheet shortly after removing them from the oven. The cocoa, coffee and Brazil nuts taste exquisite together. Packing the cookies up for the freezer made me wish we had ice cream in the house, they are so delicate and friable. All the leftover crumbs would have been delicious with a scoop of vanilla.