Sweet Peanuts

by Marcia Zoladz

Oh! What a wonderful smell. Sweet peanuts in the streets of Rio

It is quite easy to find street food stalls as we walk in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, the difference from many other cities is that these have to be small sized and on wheels. For health reasons it is not allowed to sell food in fixed stalls in the streets of the city, except on open-air food markets and at specific places at the beaches. These mobile food stalls have a fairly fixed circuit, and after a couple of years everybody knows their owners. Usually, they park their silver carts, made of aluminum, close to theater exits, schools or shopping malls. They are left in its natural silver color, without any paintings on them almost as a certificate of cleanliness, and as warning to consumers that the food they serve is good and not contaminated, a collective worry since colonial times. Most of them often sell popcorn or sweet peanuts covered with crystallized sugar syrup,  hard and dull colored.

            The sweet is an interpretation of the ancient almond pralines wrapped either in chocolate or light colored fondant. The cart design is very interesting; it carries a gas cylinder and a pan, like a basin, whick allows the candy to be prepared in front of the customers. Just selling the sweet peanuts candy would not be as attractive as preparing them in the streets. The smell of the sugar melting is hard to resist.

The recipe is really easy and fun to make, if you want to prepare Sweet Peanuts at home:

300 g of raw peanuts with their skins
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon red currant syrup (optional)

Two types of sweet peanuts are usually sold in the carts in the streets: the first is dark brown colored and chocolate flavored one; the other one, uses only sugar and is dyed with red currant syrup.  I do not like this one, I prefer the chocolate flavored; but take care, since the chocolate goes in the pan with the sugar it reaches very high temperatures, therefore the sweets when prepared with real chocolate will have a slightly burned taste. To overcome this problem use Nesquik or Ovaltine or any other brand..
Place in a large saucepan the peanuts, the sugar, water, cocoa powder and mix them. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dry. Caution: remove the sugar as it dries. If you keep stirring the sugar will melt again and the peanuts will look like glass beads, very shiny.
Spread them on a tray lightly oiled tray and break the apart when cold.

 Marcia Zoladz is the creator behind Cuzinha da Marcia.  Find out more at:www.cozinhadamarcia.com.br

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