Utterly and typically Brazilian, brigadeiro (brigadier) originated soon after the end of the Second World War, 1945, when the Presidential candidate, Eduardo Gomes (who held the military rank of Brigadier), and his diligent campaign team came up with an ingenious way of collecting funds and gaining some political spotlight.
Basically, the recipe for this now ubiquitous Brazilian sweet was invented to be sold and served at Gomes’ campaign events. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately), due to ingredients such as sugar and milk being in short supply, his team had to make do with condensed milk, butter and chocolate. The creation was baptised as ‘the brigadier’s sweet’, but quickly became known more simply as just brigadeiro, as it became ever more popular during the 50s and beyond.
Easy to make and delicious, in addition to the classic milk chocolate version, brigadeiro (pronounced “bree-ga-day-ro”, with the emphasis on ‘day’), can be made in an infinitude of ways, all using the same basic ingredients: condensed milk, butter and chocolate. So, let’s see some recipes…
1 tin of condensed milk
1 soup spoon of unsalted butter
1 pinch of salt
Sugary sprinkles as decoration
Choose your favourite sprinkles – perhaps granulated chocolate, grated coconut, flaked almonds, ground nuts or crushed cashews.
Put all the ingredients together in a large pan and mix constantly, on a low heat, not forgetting the pan’s edges. To make the classic version, add 170 grams of your favourite milk chocolate, mixing all the time. You’ll be able to tell it’s ready once the mixture comes away completely from the bottom of the pan when you tip it to the side.
Next, pour the mixture into a fairly large tray, spread it around evenly, cover it with plastic and leave it to cool in the fridge. Once cooled, you can start making the brigadeiros: get a little butter in your hands and rub them together, then go about rolling little balls of the mixture – they should be about the size of a gobstopper. As you finish each ball, roll it in your chosen sprinkles, then place in a paper wrapper, and pronto!
Make sure you add the sprinkles as soon as each ball is ready, as they will stick better to the wet butter. Don’t wait until you’ve rolled all the balls before doing the sprinkles.
You can make lots of different flavours of brigadeiro with the same basic ingredients, just adding one or two extras to the mixture as you heat it.
To make a coconut version, use 160 grams of white chocolate, and grated coconut as the decoration.
For a vanilla brigadeiro, use 200 grams of white chocolate and 2 grated vanilla beans, or a soup spoon of vanilla paste. Once the mixture is ready, and whilst still warm, add two soup spoons of rum and mix thoroughly.
For coffee flavoured ones, use 175 grams of dark chocolate (70% cocoa) and one and a half soup spoons of coffee extract.
Finally, a delicious Nutella version – use 25 grams of dark chocolate (70% cocoa), 80 grams of milk chocolate and 120 grams of Nutella.
Of course, feel free to create your own recipes with any ingredients you may wish to try out. Play, create, have fun and enjoy!