Savor the Sweetness of Brazil
with Brigadeiros

One of the things that make a country unique is the food, and brigadeiros are one of the most popular Brazilian dessert recipes.

While Brazil is known for many desserts, such as Cuscuz branco and Bolo de Rolo, one of the most well-known is the brigadeiro. Food is as much a part of the culture of a country as any other tradition, and you can learn a great deal about the people by what they eat.

The History of the Candy

Brigadeiros are a simple treat that was created in the 1940s. It was first made by the wife of a brigadier, which is where it gets its’ name. Brigadier Eduardo Gomes was in the Brazilian Air Force. He had become famous for helping to end a coup by the communists on Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s. He later ran for the Presidency in 1946 and his wife created brigadeiros as a treat for the fundraising events during his campaign.

The legend has it that people asked if others had tried the “Brigadeiro’s candy” and the name stuck. It was a simple candy made with only three ingredients during a time when other food items were in short supply because of the war. Fruit and nuts had been the Brazilian people’s favorite sweet treats, but they were in short supply because of the difficulty in importing.

It was during this time that Nestle was introducing chocolate powder and condensed milk, which are two of the three ingredients used in traditional brigadeiros. The fact that it was simple to make and was named after a famous war hero is part of the reason it has become known as the national truffle of Brazil.

Today, the candy is popular at birthday parties, especially for children. Women join together to make them for a party, while children stand by, hoping to sneak a few unseen. The same recipe for the brigadeiro candy is often used as icing for cakes, except you would have to shorten the cooking time so that it would be spreadable.

Brigadeiros are the most popular candy in Brazil and can be found at weddings, formal parties, as well as birthday parties and casual get-togethers.

How the Candy is Made

The recipe is quite simple and only requires three ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, butter, and cocoa powder. Different variations have been created since the original and may change the flavor by adding or changing ingredients. Some bakers even add an egg, while others use coffee powder to make coffee flavored brigadeiro candy.

You cook the ingredients over low heat until the right consistency is achieved for the batter to be rolled into balls. This should be when you can separate the batter with a spoon and it takes a few minutes to go back into place. Then you will want to refrigerate it to cool completely before you roll it. This can be as quickly as 30 minutes or as long as 3 or 4 days. This allows you to make the batter ahead of time and wait until the last minute to assemble.

When you are ready to create the candy, you will take get some of the batter in a spoon. The size of the balls depends upon the cook’s preferences since there is no standard for everyone to follow. You will roll it into a ball and place on a plate. You can decorate it with chocolate bits, caster sugar, or grated coconut for additional flavor.

Tips for Making the Candy

While it is easy to make brigadeiro candy because of only using three ingredients, it does not mean that no skill is required. The difficult part of the project is getting the right consistency when you are cooking it. If you cook it too long, it will be tough. But if you do not cook it long enough, it will not roll into a ball. Many cooks have developed their own tricks to making a perfect batch

  • If you use cocoa powder, mix it with just a tiny amount of water before putting it into the pan to cook. It doesn’t dissolve well in the condensed milk and you can end up with lumps. The water helps it to dissolve thoroughly before you cook it.

  • Stir with a wooden spoon in a circular motion. It will take at least 20 minutes and can take as long as 40 minutes to get to the right consistency. Make sure you get the mixture off the sides of the pan so it doesn’t stick and burn.

  • There are different ways to tell that the mixture is the right consistency. Scrape the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon. The batter should take a few minutes to go back into place. You can also scoop some into the spoon and turn it upside down. If it holds for a few seconds before falling back into the pan, it is ready.

  • Put the batter in a ceramic or glass container to allow it to cool.

  • Spread some butter on your hands before you roll the batter into balls. This prevents it from sticking to your hands and allows you to make the perfect round ball.

  • Once you have dipped the balls into a coating mixture, place them in a container and do not handle them until they are ready to eat.

There isn’t a special secret to making these delicious treats; it just takes time and practice. Once you have made a few batches, you will become proficient at them. If you are making them for a party, get some other cooks together. One batch makes about 20 balls; it will be more fun to have a brigadeiro-making party.

People all over Brazil and around the world enjoy the simple sweet taste of the brigadeiros treats. You can appreciate the candy more by knowing its history and how it relates to the culture of Brazil.

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