Living on a farm in Brazil, I've gained local in-depth knowledge of food, plants, and traditions, which I share through my articles.
I want to share with you one of the best things about Brazil. No, it isn't the beautiful beaches or the sunshine. It is the nation's favorite dessert: brigadeiro.
Here, this dessert is always prepared for birthday parties, and it's what the children wait for with excitement! Because of this, brigadeiro brings back fond memories of happy times for adults as well.
The recipe is very simple and only has three ingredients. The toppings can be as varied as you like and could include chopped nuts, colored sprinkles, cocoa powder, powdered sugar or grated coconut. So if you're ready, let's get started with the recipe.
By the way, if you aren't a fan of chocolate, I have also included a recipe below for bejinhos, which are made with coconut. These two treats are often served together, so that no one gets left out.
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- 3 tablespoons unsweetend cocoa powder (such as Hersheys or Cadbury's)
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
- 1 can sweetend condensed milk
- Toppings: colored sprinkles, chopped nuts, etc.
- Prepare a plate that you will be using for the cooling process. To do this, lightly grease a dinner plate with butter or margarine. I spread this on with a paper towel. Set aside.
- Place the butter or margarine in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter.
- Add the cocoa powder and the sweetened condensed milk. Begin stirring and break up any lumps of cocoa powder. If you live in a humid area, this occurs more often. For stirring, use a spatula instead of a spoon, as you'll cover more surface area with it.
- You will need to continue stirring constantly as the mixture could burn. This will take about 10 minutes.
- The mixture will begin to thicken and boil. Keep stirring. You are wanting to get a consistency that will hold together. When the mixture allows you to see the bottom of the pan (as noted in the video) it is ready.
- Pour the mixture onto the prepared (lightly buttered) plate. Spread with a rubber spatula. Disregard the video about putting it into the refrigerator. You shouldn't put hot things into a fridge. Leave on the counter until cool enough to handle.
- Organise your toppings into bowls.
- Butter the palms of your hands. Pick up enough of the cooled mixture to make a 1" (2.5cm) ball. Roll between your palms to form a ball. Now place this into the topping and roll to coat. It may be a good idea to use a spoon for this. Otherwise you may get the topping on your hands and transfer it to mixture when you are rolling.
- Place on a plate or into a paper case. I prefer to use paper cases. Then if they melt, they don't stick together. Put in the refrigerator to chill fully.
- For serving, arrange neatly on a serving tray.
Brigadeiro Origin and Name
The origin of brigadeiros is an interesting story. During World War II, there were food shortages here in Brazil, as there were in other countries. As the story goes, women in Rio were looking for something to replace imported chocolate. Using the few ingredients they had, these ladies began making small chocolate treats with cocoa powder. Nestlé's Nescau™, which is similar to Nestlé Quik™, was initially used—and it is still used today in some households.
The candy was named after a brigadier in the Brazilian Air Force named Eduardo Gomes. He was tall, handsome, and single, and he ran (unsuccessfully) for the presidency. This combined with Nestlé's wish to get a stronger foothold in Brazil, propelled this simple sweet chocolate ball to every Brazilian's birthday table.
In some parts of southern Brazil, they are called negrinho ("little black one" or "blackies").
If you aren't a big fan of chocolate, that's okay, we have got you covered, as well. Bejinhos, which means "little kiss" in Portuguese, are often served side by side with brigadeiro. They are made the same way—except instead of using the chocolate powder, finely grated desiccated coconut (150 g) is added. Once this is rolled into a ball it can be covered in sugar or grated coconut. Traditionally a clove is placed on the top like a small flower.
Sometimes these are also called branquinhos (which means "little white ones").
© 2012 Mary Wickison