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Traditional Brigadeiro Recipe (Brazilian Fudge Balls)

This Brigadeiro recipe is straightforward and tastes divine! The chewy truffle melts in your mouth and challenges you to eat only one. But, why would you?

Brigadeiro recipe Pinterest graphic

I love brigadeiro. My husband is crazy about brigadeiro. My whole family loves it, too—adults and children.

Well, what can I say? Brigadeiro is a delicious Brazilian sweet that is very popular in the country. There’s not a single children’s party without it. Otherwise, it’s not a real party.

My husband and I don’t have kids, but I often prepare brigadeiro of all flavors just because I have a sweet tooth. (Or I’m having a severe PMS. It helps.)

But in all honesty, when I prepare it just for the two of us, I rarely roll the dough into balls. We simply eat it from a bowl and that’s perfectly fine.

Once my husband got home to find me watching Netflix and holding an empty bowl of brigadeiro. He got jealous, but hey “happy wife, happy life,” he said.

Brazilian dessert, brigadeiro
Your brigadeiro recipe by a Brazilian

Brigadeiro origins

Jokes apart, brigadeiro is a candy with an interesting story.

Right after WW2, while Rio de Janeiro was still Brazil’s capital, the country was busy with the reelection of the new president.

One of the candidates, Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, besides being quite charming, was considered a handsome man by the female voters, who were finally allowed to vote in 1932.

Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, the brigadeiro
Flyer of Eduardo Gomes. 1945 Brazil Presidential Campaign

To show their candidate support, these voters prepared sweets to serve in rallies and public meetings.

Mind you, brigadeiro was named after the candidate’s title, brigadier, but in Portuguese.

But because it was a post-war period, the country was still rationing many ingredients and products.

And instead of using milk and sugar, as in most desserts, Heloísa Nabuco de Olivera–the creator of brigadeiro–used sweetened condensed milk to prepare this delicious Brazilian sweet.

Traditional Brazilian chocolate fudge truffles, brigadeiro
I can taste this image!

Little did Heloísa know her recipe would become Brazil’s most popular sweet for generations to come. Today, this little fudge truffle is part of our cuisine.

Fun fact about Brazil: Despite the support of the female voters, Brigadier Eduardo Gomes didn’t win the elections. Eurico Gaspar Dutra did. The brigadier lost the election and Brazil won its favorite sweet.

FAQ Brazilian chocolate balls

First, I’ll answer a couple of questions from readers. Then I’ll talk about the ingredients and how to make brigadeiro.

Brazilian brigadeiro recipe
Easy and delicious: brigadeiro

What does brigadeiro mean?

The candy was originally called “Brigadeiro’s sweet,” because that’s the translation of brigadier to Portuguese.

Mind you, this sweet was created in support of a Brazilian brigadier. But years later, the name was shortened to only brigadeiro. That’s the reason this delicious treat is important to Brazil.

What is brigadeiro?

Brigadeiro is a Brazilian chocolate truffle garnished with sprinkles. It’s usually served in a candy cup No3, but we, Brazilians, also eat it with a spoon (from a small bowl).

Brigadeiro, condensed milk dessert

What does brigadeiro taste like?

Like heaven! Brigadeiro tastes like a chocolate fudge melting in your mouth. I don’t know if the sweetened condensed milk in America is as sweet as the one we have in Brazil, but this ingredient, together with pure cocoa powder, makes wonders.

Is it easy to prepare?

Absolutely! You basically put everything all ingredients in a pan, cook for 15 minutes, let it rest, and roll the balls. It doesn’t take long and no advanced cooking skills are needed for it.

Recipe for brigadeiros

Is it served cold?

Yes, or at least at room temperature. If the truffles are warm, they will melt and make a huge mess. It’s only ok to eat it warm if you’re eating it from a bowl.

Should you refrigerate brigadeiro?

Yes, immediately after cooking it to speed up the cooling process. Only after it cools down, you can roll it to its final form.

Brazilian brigadeiro recipe

How to store brigadeiros? Can you freeze it?

Personally, I prefer to leave my brigadeiros at ambient temperature because I live in a cold place. In this case, I recommend you eat them within three days.

If you refrigerate them, keep it for seven days, but be aware that besides getting a bit dry, they could also have their color, texture, and flavor changed a little.

Brigadeiros freeze really well for up to three months, but in that case, I suggest you don’t roll them into balls. Only freeze the dough; otherwise, they might not look so appealing as before.

If you have any leftovers that you want to save for another party or just to save for after your diet, all you need to do is to store them in a plastic container with the lid tightly closed in the freezer and without the candy cups.

This way, when it thaws, it won’t ruin the cup and possibly the brigadeiro too. To thaw, leave them at room temperature for about one hour.

How to make brigadeiro
Brigadeiro is a party dessert in Brazil

Brigadeiro variations

Brigadeiro is a very versatile sweet. You can create different flavors or a mix of flavors as you like.

There are plenty of brigadeiro recipe variations possible, but a few of my favorites are coconut (beijinho), pumpkin, and lemon.

Brigadeiro recipe

This brigadeiro recipe is very easy to follow. Once you start rolling the truffles, I recommend you do it in batches for practical reasons.

First, the step-by-step instructions that will walk you through the whole cooking process of this divine brigadeiro recipe.

Brigadeiro ingredients

Brigadeiro ingredients
Brigadeiro ingredients
  • Sweetened condensed milk: this is the base for most Brazilian desserts, and what makes this brigadeiro so sweet.
  • Unsalted butter: just so you can control the amount of salt in your brigadeiro recipe.
  • A pinch of salt: to enhance the brigadeiro flavor.
  • Cocoa powder: cocoa powder adds a sophisticated touch of real chocolate. Obviously, you could also use chocolate milk powder, but because it comes with lots of sugar, your brigadeiro might not taste so well.
  • Chocolate sprinkles to garnish: personally, I use pure chocolate sprinkles simply because I love pure chocolate. However, you can use any sprinkles you like in your Brazilian fudge balls.

Your step-by-step brigadeiro recipe

As I said before, brigadeiro is an easy Brazilian dessert to prepare. There’s no secret. First, grease a plate with butter and set aside.

Then, mix the condensed milk, the butter, and the cocoa powder in a medium non-stick pan.

How to make brigadeiros

Be sure to continually stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula so the milk won’t burn at the bottom.

The secret of getting the brigadeiro to the right cooking point where it won’t stick to your hands when you roll the little balls is to let it cook a little more than most brigadeiro recipes say.

How to make brigadeiros

Most of them say to turn off the stove after the mixture seems more like a dough and it starts pulling away from the sides of the pan. But I say, continue stirring it for a minute after the dough starts acting like that.

When I cook it for a further minute, the brigadeiro never sticks to my hand. It is very easy to roll.

How to make brigadeiros

Remove it from the heat and transfer the mixture to the greased plate and spread. Let it cool in the freezer for 25 minutes.

Before you start molding your brigadeiros, put the chocolate sprinkles on a plate next to you, another plate filled with candy cups, and butter to grease your hands a little.

How to make brigadeiros

To mold the brigadeiro into balls, take a full teaspoon with the dough and roll it between your buttered hands. Put the little balls on the plate with sprinkles, but don’t coat it yet.

After you have no more space on the plate or there’s no more dough, roll the brigadeiros around the plate with sprinkles to coat all sides and transfer each ball to a candy cup. Bom apetite!

Did you like this recipe for brigadeiro? Then save it to your Pinterest board and send it to a friend who might also like it.

Brigadeiro recipe Pinterest graphic
Brigadeiro, condensed milk dessert

Brigadeiro recipe

Yield: 20 truffles
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Rolling Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Brigadeiro is a classic Brazilian sweet with an incredibly easy recipe. You'll fall in love with this delicious treat at first bite.

Ingredients

  • 1 14-ounce (397 grams) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • A pinch of salt to enhance the flavor
  • Chocolate sprinkles or any other you prefer

Instructions

  1. Grease a plate with butter and set aside.
  2. In a medium non-stick pan, combine the condensed milk, butter, and cocoa powder in medium heat and mix it well.
  3. The mixture thickens after about 10-12 minutes, and once you can run your silicone spatula through the middle of it without it running back together for 2-3 seconds, it is done.
  4. Pour the mixture onto the lightly greased plate and let it chill in the fridge for an hour.
  5. In the meantime, prepare the candy cups and place the sprinkles in a bowl.
  6. Once chilled, you are ready to roll the little balls. Lightly wet your hands, put a tablespoon of the chewy mixture on your hands, and roll into a small ball.
  7. Roll it over the sprinkles.
  8. Place the balls in the candy cups, and voila! Enjoy it!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 99Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 15gProtein: 2g

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Tammy

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Is it best to use a candy thermometer, if so what stage is best when ready to remove from stove top? I'm not for sure how long to cook it for as I am seeing anywhere from 15 min up to 45 min (I have a gas stove). I have made different candies for years, but fudge is not one of my friends.. lol ( I failed the never fail fudge). Are these more like a fudge consistency or melt in your mouth truffle? I have to make some goodies coming up this weekend (10/30/21) for a sweet 16 bday party and wanted to make these, Please share any secrets to helping me to make sure they turn out, or any suggestions for making them even better with add ins.. Thank You

Bruna

Thursday 28th of October 2021

Hi Tammy, I have never used a candy thermometer in my life, so I can't help you with that. Sorry! When I was growing up, we only used a stovetop to make brigadeiros (that's how 90% of Brazil still cooks), and it works just the same. You have a better grasp of your stove heat, so be sure to keep it a medium and follow the instructions. You'll see the mixture will thicken in about 15 minutes. Forty-five minutes is far too long. And to answer your question, they melt in your mouth like a truffle. All my secrets are in the recipe. Remember you can always make it in advance as they stay suitable for consumption for 3 to 7 days (see instructions). I hope you enjoy brigadeiros!! Good luck!

Alissa

Monday 11th of October 2021

I use the Nesquik cocoa powder to make the brigadeiros and the sweetened condensed milk and two tablespoons of butter. I put them in the refrigerator for overnight and I put the chocolate sprinkles for the parties with the Brazilian friends and I am good at the Brazilian Portuguese language an official language for Brazil.🇧🇷💙💚💛

Tammy Ihnen

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

@Alissa, are you referring to Nesquik chocolate milk mix? I thought the recipe called for cocoa powder like natural unsweetened(Nestle cocoa, Hershey's cocoa, etc.). Maybe that's the difference. I want to make these I haven't done so yet, but want to make some soon but want to use the correct cocoa powder...

Cindy Leon

Thursday 16th of September 2021

Why don’t ours stay in ball form? We cook it fir 45 min.. It’s like they are melting in the fridge…

Bruna

Wednesday 29th of September 2021

Hi Cindy, did you change anything in your recipe? After cooling the mixture, the brigadeiros should stay in a ball shape, especially if they're in the fridge. Did you maybe add more butter than the recipe?

Chris

Monday 13th of September 2021

My tip - roll the mixture into a long log shape, wrap in plastic, and then chill. Then you can cut it into portion sizes and roll into balls with more of the mix becoming treats than being licked off your fingers…

Jessy

Wednesday 12th of May 2021

Hi, thank you for sharing this recipe. I have been meaning to try it but most recipes will ask for creme de leite and it's very thick. I have Google the meaning in English and I find different versions of cream. I can only find whipping cream in my country. In your recipe you used only condensed milk and it's so different from what I have seen. Please what type of cream can I use and why didn't you add cream? I will follow you on Instagram for more Brazilian recipes. Thank you for simplifying this traditional treat.

Bruna

Monday 17th of May 2021

Hi Jessy! The creme de leite we use in Brazil is called table cream abroad, and it has between 10%-19% fat content. The traditional brigadeiro recipe doesn't call for this ingredient, and that's why I didn't use it here. Still, I can imagine there are many variations out there. For instance, I used table cream in this coffee brigadeiro recipe. When you use cream, the texture gets less chewy. Good luck!

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