Brigadeiro – a Brazilian little treat
January 21, 2011
Oh yes, brigadeiros! A classic candy from my native country Brazil. Some people say it resembles fudges or truffles. For me… they are just lovely oh-so-super-sweet candies that bring me comfort and remind my home.
Brigadeiros are a must be in every Brazilian party. At least birthday ones… as far as I remember, I had brigadeiros in every birthday of mine (wouldn´t be different this time right?).
This candy was created in the 1940s, when there was a shortage of fresh products (such as fruits, nuts and eggs) used in the normal confectionery during the war. The legend says it was named after Brigadier Eduardo Gomes (brigadeiro means “Brigadier”).
When I moved to Finland I had difficulties to find the ingredients to make the recipe. Let´s say that 5 years ago sweetened condensed milk was an unknown product here and I could only find it in ethnic stores downtown (Chinese, Russian or Estonian groceries). After a huge breakthrough (thanks to the Banoffe pie and its popularization) I can find cans of condensed milk in normal supermarkets. Yay!!
The recipe I use comes from my mother´s recipe notebook. It is stove top method to make the brigadeiro. I know it is possible to make it in the microwave but I prefer this way.
yields about 35 small ones
- 1 can (397g) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
- Chocolate sprinkles (I used this tiny chocolate balls, about 1 cup)
- small paper cups (optional)
Prepare a heat-proof deep plate, greasing with a bit of unsalted butter.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan mix the condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder. Bring to boil in medium heat. Whisk well to prevent any pockets of cocoa powder.
Low the heat and keep whisking the mixture. Use a wooden spatula or a silicone one to stir the batter.
After approximately 10 minutes the mixture should get thicker, fudge alike. It starts to get done when you can see the bottom of the pan and your spatula leaves a trail in the batter.
Now, the tricky part. There is a perfect moment when you stop cooking the brigadeiro. If you undercook , the batter can remain too soft to be molded and it will just be a thick milky chocolate sauce. If overcooking, the brigadeiros would be hard and chewy (and that remembers me once when I was younger I made brigadeiros so hard my dad called them “toothbrakers” :D).
The brigadeiro batter is ready when you lift the pan from the heat and when moving the pan sideways, the batter slides to one side of the pan as a whole blob. The bottom of the pan will be covered with a brown residual layer (as shown here)
Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared plate and let cool to room temperature. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge (so it gets easier to mold the candies).
Using a teaspoon, scoop the mixture and using your hands, roll little balls (about ∅2cm). Repeat with the remaining chocolate mixture.
Put the sprinkles in a bowl. Roll the brigadeiros in the sprinkles, covering its surface and place them in the paper cups.
The brigadeiro keeps well in an airtight plastic container for up to 2 days at room temperature or for 2 weeks in the refrigerator (but believe me, it won´t last that long ^_^)
My notes about the recipe:
I know it might be difficult in the beginning to find the right moment to stop cooking the brigadeiro. If you undercook it and get a soft batter that doesn’t stay in the ball shape, use it to fill a cake or sandwich cookies (just like Dulce de Leche). Other option is to pour little portions in small shot glasses, put the sprinkles on top and eat with a small spoon. This last suggestion actually exists as a dessert and it is called “Brigadeiro de copinho” (brigadeiro inside little glasses) with the difference there is an addition of cream or milk to the batter to make it more liquid.
I think Brigadeiro is the main party candy made with sweetened condensed milk. There are many others (with shredded coconut, with grounded peanuts or pistachios, with strawberry jelly… ) and variations of the main brigadeiro-theme. They are all good, but nothing beats the classic chocolate one in its simplicity ;).
Here a classic brigadeiro with a chocolate decoration (Easter themed) I made last year on my youngest daughter´s birthday party.