Brazil: Brigadeiros

I did some scouting on Pinterest for Brazilian dishes, but at the time none of them really appealed to me. Because I was making something savoury for Mexico I thought I could maybe then do something sweet for Brazil. So instead of ‘Brazil food’ I changed by search terms to ‘Brazil dessert’ and there was one dessert that definitely wanted to make it’s presence known on the internet: Brigadeiros. The recipes seemed simple enough and so I decided to go with it!

A Brigadeiro, also known in some Southern Brazilian states as ‘negrinho’ (literally translated to ‘blackie’) was first created in 1940. The history is relatively unclear and there are a number of stories about how Brigadeiros came to be. One story revolves around the fact that when fresh milk and sugar were hard to come by after World War II, it was discovered that condensed milk and cocoa tasted good together.  Another story explains that the Brigadeiro was a tribute to Eduardo Gomes, a brigadier (usually somebody of the rank above colonel in the military) who was running for elections during 1945.  Brigadeiros are said to be made at most Brazilian celebrations. However they came to be, I have to say I’m super glad that they did.  As I said, the recipes are simple, containing only three ingredients: butter, condensed milk and cocoa (all the good things life has to offer really).

I found the recipe for my Brigadeiros here. Even though the ingredients were simple, the recipe required much attention because it seems that the process can go wrong quite easily (particularly around stirring of the mixture).

Most of the process went smoothly, except at one stage I noticed that some of the mixture was cooking too much, and creating lumps (This turned out to be ok in the end, because it actually added some variety to the Brigadeiros). I was vigilant with the stirring though and think I would give myself 9 out of 10 for how the mixture turned out. Where the slight (and only slight) problem came in is that I had planned to make the Brigadeiros for a friend’s baby shower. I had made chocolate brownies though, so it wasn’t the main feature, but I wanted to ‘kill 2 birds with one stone’ with my recipe (ie not make Brigadeiros for my own personal consumption, but rather for an event). Why this is a problem is that I ran out of time. The mixture needed to be much cooler and when I started rolling the balls some of the mixture was still warm, so they didn’t roll very well. I also made a variety of different sizes, which my mom would probably say that she likes, but that’s because she has to. Ideally they should have been the same sizes. I only used half of the mixture for the baby shower balls, and then the other half the following day. The mixture was much easier to use then, and I was more chuffed with the outcome. Please note though – the Brigadeiros don’t really travel well. They seem to melt quite easily so need to be kept in the fridge or at least in a cold cooler box.

What did work well though were the toppings. I had crushed Oreos, Milo powder, desiccated coconut and Hundreds and Thousands. However, as I write this I realise I didn’t actually use the standard Brigadeiro topping of chocolate sprinkles. I thought the variety was quite suitable. The Oreos, if not crushed fully, did give a nice difference in texture to the Brigadeiros, as did the coconut.

I got some mixed reviews. Well, everybody who ate them said they tasted good. The mixed reviews came from whether people could withstand the sweetness. Somebody at the baby shower said they were like ‘delicious toffee balls of goodness’ (I may be paraphrasing, but it was something like that), whereas another friend at a picnic I went to said ‘they’re delicious, just super sweet’ and proceeded to offer somebody else his other half. Another friend was glad he chose the one with coconut to balance out some of the sweetness. My opinion? (Remember though, I have a sweet tooth) Absolutely delicious, but definitely rich and sweet. In hindsight I should have made half the recipe. I was correct in making these for an event, because a whole portion just sitting in the house is deadly, and probably a diabetic death sentence.

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