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What is Quindim?

By Donn Saylor
Updated May 16, 2024
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Quindim is a traditional Brazilian dessert primarily made with coconut, egg yolks, and sugar. It has a consistency like that of custard and is similar to the popular Spanish dessert flan. Quindim is bright yellow in color due to the large number of egg yolks in the recipe and is customarily served in molds of either individual cups or one large ring.

The source of the typical quindim recipe is believed to be, at least in part, based on traditional Portuguese baked desserts. The recipe was modified by slaves in the Bahia area of Brazil during the 17th century. The profusion of coconuts in the region during that time made coconut an integral part of the reinvented recipe, but the utilization of massive amounts of egg yolks indicate its Portuguese roots; Portuguese cookery traditionally employs substantial numbers of egg yolks. Like the Brazilian desserts fios de ovos, papo de anjo, queijadinha, and the Portuguese dessert Cocada amarela, egg yolks are the staple ingredient in any quindim recipe.

A classic quindim recipe includes approximately 1 lb. (about 454 grams) of sugar, anywhere from 15 to 20 egg yolks, and up to a half-pound (around 227 grams) of butter. Generous helpings of coconut, as well as a dash of vanilla extract, are also commonly added. Other ingredients like milk, coconut milk, water, or even a sprinkling of parmesan cheese are sometimes combined with the batter. Like most custard desserts, the quindim is then poured into either single cups or a large mold, placed in approximately a half-inch (1.3 cm) of water, and baked at 350°F (around 177°C) until a golden-colored crust forms on the top of the custard. After cooling for a short period of time, the still-warm quindim is removed from the mold. It is served cold, crust side down.

If quindim is made in a ring-mold, it may also be known by the name quindao. It is removed from the mold when still slightly warm and put into the refrigerator. After being thoroughly chilled, the custard is cut into slices. The quindim/quindao is served by the individual slice and is sometimes garnished with fresh fruits.

The word "quindim" has its origins in the Bantu language of Sub-Saharan Africa, which was undoubtedly the birthplace of many of Brazil's slaves during the 17th century. They utilized this term of their mother tongue when christening the sugar- and egg yolk-heavy dessert. Loosely translated, "quindim" means "the gestures, demeanor, or humorous characteristics of adolescent girls."

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Discussion Comments

By gravois — On Jan 05, 2012

When I was doing my doctoral research I had to spend a lot of time in one of Brazil's smaller cities, a real run down post industrial town that no one has ever heard of.

I was really stressed out trying to get my thesis finished and the town did not offer many comforts. But in my first week I discovered quindim and I think it got me through those long months.

I have always had a sweet tooth, but there is something about quindim that is more satisfying than any other dessert I've eaten. I finished many long days in the archives with a bowl of cool quindim on a patio where I could watch the sunset. It didn't do wonders for my waistline but it sure helped with my sanity.

By honeybees — On Jan 04, 2012

@bagley79 - I have never seen quindim being served in any restaurants, but I live in the Midwest and that might be the biggest reason.

I am sure there are a few quaint restaurants in larger cities that may serve this dessert. It really isn't hard to make, and I usually have everything on hand I need.

With only a few ingredients, it is hard to go wrong. You can always start out with just half the recipe to make sure you are going to like it before mixing up a huge batch.

I served this at a ladies brunch and most of the women had never heard of it before. The single serving dessert pieces look very elegant when served on nice dessert plate.

All of the women loved this dessert, and many of them left with the recipe.

By bagley79 — On Jan 04, 2012

I have never tasted quindim, but it sounds like it would be very rich and fattening. Most custard recipes have a lot of eggs in them, but the combination of sugar, butter and egg yolks sounds like a lot of calories!

I love desserts with cream cheese in them, so that is probably not any better. By the time you take the cream cheese, add some condensed milk, sugar and some chocolate, you probably have the same number of calories and fat.

Quindim probably wouldn't be the best dessert to eat if you were trying to lower your cholesterol, but I would like to try it some time.

Is this something I would have to make myself, or can you find it being served in restaurants?

By julies — On Jan 03, 2012

When I was in high school, we had a foreign exchange student from Brazil with us for a semester.

She taught me how to make several interesting dishes, but the desserts from Brazil were definitely the best.

I have made quindim a few times since then, but my kids don't care for it very much, so I end up eating most of it.

I like to use the individual muffin tins, and like to eat this dessert with fresh strawberries. The chewy coconut crust with the rich, custard top is refreshing any time, but especially in the summer.

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