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Almost as good as a cup of coffee in the morning, this brigadeiro recipe is sure to bring lots of joy to your day.
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.
Brigadeiro pronunciation: bree-gah-DAY-roh
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.
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.
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 few questions readers ask me often about this recipe, then I’ll talk about the ingredients, and how to make 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 mini bonbon cup, but we, Brazilians, also eat it with a spoon (from a small bowl).
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.
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.
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 bonbon cups.
This way, when it unfreezes, it won’t ruin the cup and possibly the brigadeiro too. To unfreeze, leave them at room temperature for about one hour.
Brigadeiro is a very versatile sweet. You can create different flavors or a mix of flavors as you like.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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 mini bonbon cups, and butter to grease your hands a little.
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.
Tip from a local: It’s easier to roll them in batches and only then to coat them with sprinkles; otherwise, your hands will get filled with them.
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 mini bonbon cup. Bom apetite!
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- 1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
- 1 tbsp butter, plus some more to roll the balls
- A pinch of salt to enhance the flavor
- Chocolate sprinkles or any other you prefer
- Grease a plate with butter and set aside.
- Add condensed milk, butter, and cocoa powder on a heavy bottom pan in medium heat and mix it well.
- Continue stirring and cooking until it thickens. You'll see it unsticking off the bottom. When the mixture looks more like a dough than like a batter, wait an extra minute, then turn off the heat.
- Pour the mixture onto the lightly greased plate and let it cool down. You can put it in the refrigerator.
- Once cold, you are ready to roll the little balls. Use a teaspoon to put the dough on your hands and remember to grease your hands with butter first.
- Roll it over sprinkles.
- Place the balls in mini baking cups and voila! Enjoy it!
Did you make this recipe? Show me how it turned out!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 20Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 21mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g
Bruna was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, and traveled extensively throughout the country. She studied Economy in college and Brazilian Culture at home. She loves helping people to make the most out of their travel to Brazil. Bruna is also an expert in Brazilian food and is more than happy to teach you, dear reader, all of her mom’s and grandma’s recipes.