Take a dozen banana peels, wash them gently with a brush under running water, then chop them into small pieces. Next, blend the peels with five spoons of cacao and a cup of ice water. Once the lumps have been removed, place the mixture in a hot, buttered pan and stir it for five minutes. Let it cool down to thicken, and then roll the resulting dough into small spheres. Lastly, dip the balls into sesame or peanut powder, and you’ll have a brigadeiro , an iconic Brazilian dessert. But this is not the standard version of the sweet: It’s a unique variant created by Regina Tchelly , a 39-year-old Brazilian chef and resident of Rio de Janeiro’s Babilônia slum. “I always wanted to be a chef, but not a normal one,” Tchelly says. In 2001, Tchelly moved from a small town in northeastern Brazil to the favelas , or slums, of Rio looking for a better future for her and her daughter. She initially worked as a housemaid, a common profession for women coming into the city from poorer areas. But the longer she shopped at the local markets, the more she grew disappointed by the amount of […]

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