Sawdust pudding, or serradura, is a Portuguese dessert that’s perhaps the easiest and best last course ever. It’s made by layering crushed tea cookies with sweetened whipping cream. Three ingredients. And elegant enough for entertaining.
This dessert actually shares nothing with its oh, how shall we say it, slightly offputting English name—sawdust pudding– and everything with its purringly Portuguese moniker–serradura. It’s soft, creamy, and will get your tongue trilling with its layers of whipped cream, condensed milk, and crushed Maria cookies.
And if you’re looking for something to keep the kids occupied during this endlessly looping Brady Bunch life you’re currently living, this is it. Kids of all ages can make it. Maybe let them loose in the kitchen while you binge-watch the second season of “Dead to Me.” Now there’s an idea.–David Leite
Serradura ~ Portuguese Sawdust Pudding
- One (7-oz) package tea cookies (traditionally Bolacha Maria cookies but Leibnez will work nicely)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- One (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- Ground cinnamon
- Toasted sliced almonds
- Toasted coconut
- Passion fruit pulp and seeds
- In the bowl of a food processor, blitz the cookies into fine crumbs.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the cream until medium-soft peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the sweetened condensed milk and continue whipping until medium-stiff peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes more.
- Spoon the cream into a resealable plastic bag and snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag to make for easy piping.
- In individual glass serving dishes, wine glasses, martini glasses, short Mason jars, or a single large serving dish, alternate layering the cream and the cookie crumbs beginning and ending with the cream. You should have about 7 layers.
- Garnish with anything you desire, whether ground cinnamon, almonds, toasted coconut, or the very untraditional (though stunning) passion fruit pulp and seeds.
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours or preferably overnight to allow the cookies to soften. If chilling overnight, tent the puddings with plastic wrap to avoid it drying out.
- Serve cold and garnish, if desired, with cinnamon, almonds, coconut, and/or passion fruit just before serving.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
How can you not love a dessert that has only 3 ingredients and comes together so quickly? I admit when I tasted it right after mixing I thought it was almost too sweet, but once it chilled thoroughly, it mellowed out. It’s a beautiful dessert and you have the opportunity to get creative.
I made several different sizes and added different toppings. My favorite was sour cherries in Kirsch with toasted almonds. That certainly cuts the sweetness as did the dark chocolate crisp pearls with shavings. You can’t go wrong with fresh fruit like blueberries with a little lemon zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The favorite among the kids was the dehydrated strawberries with strawberry crisp pearls.
I couldn’t find either cookies mentioned so I made shortbread and it worked for me. I would like to try it with the traditional Bolacha Maria someday, though. It took a little practice layering, but I wasn’t too concerned if they were a bit rustic. I had a little difficulty getting the pudding even in the smallest dish, but I used a wine cork to tamp it down and that worked very well.
I think it’s important not to overwhip the cream before adding the condensed milk or the final product will be too stiff. The recipe calls for medium-soft peaks before adding the milk and medium peaks after and that is spot on. It does set up nicely with overnight chilling.
Everyone really enjoyed the dessert and sampling different toppings. I will definitely keep experimenting with seasonal and holiday ingredients. I used sour cherries in Kirsch; blueberries with cinnamon and lemon zest; dark chocolate crisp pearls and shavings; and dehydrated strawberries with strawberry crisp pearls.
I am not sure about how many servings since I used different sizes, but I think the smaller single serving size would easily produce 10 to 12.
Quite simply the most simple delicious pudding to serve at a dinner party, potluck or weeknight dinner with family. You can never go wrong with 3 ingredients, especially when one of those ingredients is whipped cream. Any buttery cookie with a delicate crumb would do in this recipe, I happened to use the Biscoff cookies, a nice Belgian style speculoos cookie.
I crumbled my cookies the old fashioned way, with a rolling pin and plastic Ziploc bag—a good way to let out some aggression and it only took a couple minutes.
The messy part of this dessert is the assembly, mainly putting the cream into the resealable bag without losing too much over the sides of the bag. In my opinion, it’s an almost unnecessary step and you could just spoon the cream onto each cookie layer with the same result.
I used one single large dish, mainly to eliminate having to wash too many dishes afterwards. For a dinner party, I would definitely serve these in individual dishes but for my boys and myself simple is best. I had 7 layers in total in a large glass bowl.
The cookies softened nicely during chill time but still held the texture and taste of cinnamon and spices. I served this family style and it would easily serve 12. I also recommend serving any leftovers over the top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream—match made in heaven.
I garnished the pudding with a sprinkle of cinnamon. I do think shredded coconut or almonds would have added a nice touch. It would also be fun to experiment with different fruit toppings or even to place fruit within each layer (ie berries).
This is so easy that it would make a great dessert to do with kids. They would really have fun. The taste is also surprisingly good.
I used 8 Kerr jars and some sliced almonds on the top but just more crumbs would work. We tried one the next day and the cookie crumbs were definitely not as crisp as the first day. It was fine, though, just different.
Incredibly simple and easy to make, with just 3 ingredients, this elegant dessert is perfect to impress your guests. I like it simple, but you can add some garnishes to your taste, and I prefer to serve it in a large glass serving dish, as it starts to mix the layers when I take a large spoon to serve it.
I didn’t use any optional garnishes. I like it as it is.
Originally published May 03, 2020
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This serradura is great!! It’s like a grown-up version of the dirt pudding I made when I was a kid-with boxed pudding mix and Oreos.
And it’s super easy to make. It came together in less than 1/2 hour (5 minutes total to make the cream and maybe 10 more to layer it into jars and make it look all pretty).
I made 8 individual servings in 8 ounce canning jars (5 layers of cream and 4 layers of cookie crumbs). I sprinkled toasted coconut on top, but I think anything would be good with this–fruit, nuts, chocolate.
This was really fun to make and everyone loved it!