Quinoa twist on Brazilian street food wins top award

By Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

JessicaMurray-webPULLMAN, Wash. – Jessica Murray, a Washington State University graduate student from Woodland, Wash., used the crunch of quinoa, a popular new superfood, to put an international award-winning twist on a Brazilian snack.

Her dessert recipe, “Brazilian Delight,” recently won first place in the American Association of Cereal Chemists International’s 2015 Student Product Development Contest (see http://www.aaccnet.org/Pages/default.aspx).

Brazilian Delight dessert. (Photos by Seth Truscott)

A first-year graduate student in the WSU/University of Idaho School of Food Science (http://sfs.wsu.edu/), Murray teamed up with now-graduated food science students Franciele Caramit, Katie Smoot and Colby Swartz.

“Jessica’s win demonstrates the strength of our program to recruit, retain and educate high quality students,” said WSU assistant professor Brennan Smith, Murray’s advisor. “When a student can compete in an intercollegiate competition at an international level and win, it speaks tremendously to the quality of the faculty and curriculum.”

Texture, flavor, fusion food

The team was inspired by a Brazilian street food simply called “tapioca.” Vendors cook tapioca starch, water and salt into a crepe-like treat. Murray added a ginger-infused apple topping along with quinoa and coconut.

“Tapioca starch doesn’t have a lot of flavor,” she said. “Quinoa gave it a nuttier flavor and a heartier texture.”

At the competition, she met a panel of judges and handled a tasting session to beat out products from four other universities.

“Quinoa is a hot-topic food,” she said. “Right now, cooks are trying to find new things to do with it.”

Quinoa-based dessert products aren’t very visible in the U.S. market. But Murray’s ready-made dessert, stored frozen and cooked and served hot, helps promote the alternative grain as a fusion food.

Continuing innovation

She developed the dessert as part of a senior level food product development course taught by Smith. Her professors encouraged her to submit Brazilian Delight for the contest.

“They had not seen anything like it and thought it could represent our school well,” she said, especially with the Washington apple topping.

Murray is working with a fellow student to develop more products from quinoa.


Jessica Murray, WSU/UI School of Food Science, 360-771-2008, jessica.murray@wsu.edu
Brennan Smith, WSU/UI School of Food Science, 208-885-2082, brennans@uidaho.edu
Seth Truscott, WSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences communications, 509-335-8164, struscott@wsu.edu