What is Canjica?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

In Brazilian cooking, a sweet dessert made from corn mush known as canjica is often served during winter celebrations. The term also refers to the sweet white corn used in preparing the desserts. This corn is also used as a popping corn.

Hominy can be used to make canjica.
Hominy can be used to make canjica.

The consistency of canjica is similar to that of the American dish known as grits, though it is served cold. The Brazilian sweet dish is prepared with milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Some recipes may also call for coconut milk or sweetened condensed milk, depending on personal preference. Hominy can be substituted for the canjica corn if needed as well.

To prepare canjica, one should first wash the corn thoroughly. After being drained, it can then be mixed with milk to be cooked over low heat. This is done until the mixture retains a soft texture. Next, sugar and any other ingredients preferred can be added for taste. The dessert should continue to simmer until all of the ingredients are well mixed.

If using fresh corn, it may need to be grated off the cob prior to cooking. It can also be processed in a blender or food processor to make it easier to cook. Forcing the pulp through a sieve can also help ensure a uniform, smooth mixture.

Many cooks like to add flavor to their canjica with various toppings in addition to cinnamon. Nuts are a popular addition to the dessert. Sugar and other sweeteners are typically added to taste. Any other flavorful additions, from chocolate chips to sprinkles, can be used to create a more whimsical treat, particularly if the dessert will be served to children.

Prior to serving, this treat is typically dished into ramekins, or similar small dessert cups or bowls. The corn mush should be chilled prior to serving. This can be accomplished by refrigerating the mixture for three or more hours. Refrigeration time can be diminished if the dessert is dispensed into serving cups first, rather than chilling the entire batch in a bowl.

Canjica may be frozen to be used in the future. If so, it will keep for up to three months. Refrigerated, the dessert will stay fresh for only up to one week.

Throughout southern Brazil, the name canjica is most often used to describe this porridge dessert. In other parts of the country, however, the sweet dish is known by other names. In northern areas, it is known as mugunzá.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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