Brigadeiro or ‘Blackie’ is a sticky soft chocolate bon-bon, which can be described as a hybrid of truffle, caramel and fudge. The recipe is very easy, just made by cooking condensed milk and cocoa powder (some recipes have butter and egg yolk as well) for a few minutes to obtain a thick paste. After the paste is cooled down, it is rolled into little balls which are then covered in chocolate sprinkles. It is kid’s party must have and one of the favourites with the little ones. It is so funny to go to parties and see kids putting more than one Brigadeiro in their mouths and with their little faces and hands covered in chocolate.
I love the stories on how Brazil’s classic recipes are named, and the name Brigadeiro, in particular, is a very interesting one. Legend says that a good-looking Brigadier called Eduardo Gomes who was a candidate for Brazil’s presidency in the 40s ad 50s quickly built up a large female-fan base who threw him a candidacy party and created a chocolate sweet in his tribute. The sweet became so popular that these women started to cook them regularly with the intent to raise funds for Eduardo’s campaign. So the Brigadeiro sweet was born. In the past, the recipe was slightly different and the bon-bon was made with a mixture of chocolate, sugar, milk and eggs.
There is also the white version, called Brigadeiro Branco, which simply omits the cocoa and it’s covered in white chocolate sprinkles.
Brigadeiros are so popular in Brazil that in recent years specialised shops were established to sell all versions of white and black Brigadeiros one can possibly imagine. You can find Brigadeiros made with any kind of nuts, coconut, coffee and even passion fruit and lime. Similar to a cupcake shop or a chocolaterie, the Brigaderias, as they are called, are decorated in a very romantic way and it is quite tempting making you want to try every single flavour the shop has to offer. They are carefully placed in colourful paper cases with an option to have assorted sweets packed in a gift box.
My Brigadeiro recipe is quite simple, with just four ingredients: condensed milk, cocoa, a little bit of milk to dissolve the cocoa and chocolate sprinkles to cover. The chocolate sprinkles can be replaced by other types and colours of party confections or even with grated chocolate or cocoa.
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tbs good-quality cocoa
150 ml milk
100 g chocolate sprinkles
20 petit paper cases
1. Pour cocoa and milk in a microwave-proof dish and microwave for 1 minute then stir well until cocoa is dissolved. In a small saucepan, pour in milk mixture, condensed milk, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon (used only for desserts) for 20 minutes. When mixture starts to come off the pan, continue stirring vigorously for a further 2 minutes. Make sure you stir well so the mixture does not stick in the bottom of the pan to avoid burning.
2. Transfer the brigadeiro paste to a small baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours or until cool.
3. Remove it from the fridge and start working immediately. Grease your hands with a little butter and scoop the paste with a teaspoon. Roll into a ball and throw it in the chocolate sprinkles to cover. Place the ball into a case. Repeat with the remaining paste. If your hands get sticky, you might have to wash and grease it again. Keep them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to five days.