By: Bel Moherdauiu and Rafaela Polo

After two months of intense work and research, including many trips between São Paulo and Fortaleza, the duo formed by the researcher Rafela Medeiros and the chef Thiago de Andrade (from Instituto Brasil a Gosto) was able to present the product they had develope for the first edition of the Creative Lab from Escola de Gastronomia Social Ivens Dias Branco, em Fortaleza, Ceará: a vegan dulce de leche made with coconut milk and sugarcane molasses, two ingredients easily found in the city were Rafaela was born (Pedra Branca, Ceará). The candy was named “leite de pedra” (rock milk). This name is full of references: the name of the city (Pedra Branca means white rock in English) and the life story of Rafaela, that saw her father lost part of his income when a dam broke and flooded the family’s coconut production. Some time after that, a drought caused the decrease of sugarcane production, which made her father “take milk out of the rocks” – Brazilian expression that means surviving in hard times – to survive with whatever was left in that land.

Thiago mentored the project, helping the researcher to test and to refine the product. They tested the rock milk in recipes like manioc cocada, tapioca pudding, traditional pudding and in different types of brigadeiro, as a substitute for condensed milk. The final recipe, the one that was shown during their presentation, was a pie made with hog-plum and rock milk. They also presented the product itself and served with fleur de sel and pennyroyal.

The duo’s project goes beyond the development of a new product. Their idea is to make a community kitchen in Pedra Branca, where local confectioners could make this new candy as a form of income to their families. “The project needs to give something back to the society, to where it belongs. We have already started a conversation with Pedra Branca city council”, says Thiago.

Other products were presented at the Lab, such as jackfruit flour – developed by the researcher Ana Parente with mentorship of Gabi Mahamud, from Good Truck (project that stimulates conscious consumption and the use of food that usually goes to the bin); broad bean and rice flour – from Antonio Junior with the mentorship of André Luiz, healthy cooking consultant; and the bread made with coconut sourdough – from Janderson Pinheiro with the mentorship of Alex Duarte, from Padoca do Alex.

These new products generate 11 recipes that will soon be transformed into a book, including the pie and the rock milk. The whole process was also registered in video and will be available soon.

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