Brazilian Peanut Candy Squares (Paçoca)

Brazilian Peanut Candy Squares (Paçoca)
This candy is as Brazilian as it gets. The original paçoca (Pa-SSO-ca) is made with peanuts, sugar and cassava flour and it is ground in a mortar.
The name paçoca comes from a Brazilian Native Dialect (tupi-guarani) and it means "to crumble". That is because this candy crumbles down easily either in your hands or in your mouth.

This candy is found at just about any grocery store, street markets and school's cafeterias around Brazil. There are two types of paçoca. One that is drier and crumbles easily and normally comes in a cork shape. The other one is slightly denser, moister and it is normally shaped into squares. The last one was always my favourite and it's the one posted here.

There is an old tradition amongst Brazilian Christians of eating paçoca during lent or on Good Friday, since peanuts are naturally high in energy. My grandmother used to mashed them with bananas (for moisture) and eat it with a fork.

You can make this candy using salted peanuts too, it will lend a slightly salty bite to it, which is common in many Brazilian paçocas. If you just like it sweet, go ahead and make it just like I did, and you'll end up with a sweet, peanuty treat.

The best part: The whole thing comes together in minutes and there is no baking or cooking involved at all.

Brazilian Peanut Squares Recipe: makes about 36 squares

You will need:

9 oz (250g) of roasted, skinless peanuts
1 1/2 packages of Maria Cookies **(see note bellow)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons of sugar

In the food processor, combine peanuts, cookies and pulse until it's well combined and even. It should resemble a coarse flour. Add the sugar and pulse. Add the condensed milk and process until it forms a ball of dough. Transfer to a 9 inch square baking dish lined with wax or parchment paper. Using your hands, press it very well to form an even layer. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes up to overnight. Remove from the baking dish and cut into squares. Keep it in airtight containers.

** Maria cookies are round, flat cookies found at the Ethnic aisle of most grocery stores near the Latin foods, or at Latin and sometimes Mediterranean food stores.
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