Brigadeiro: Brazil’s Famous Chocolate Treat

Chocolates are everybody’s favorites. From its humble origins of cacao beans to the fine pastry shops, it is transformed into several forms before becoming a part of any confectionery. Brazilian Brigadeiro is one such pastry famous for its taste.

Brigadeiro is a chocolate-based confectionery found in Brazil. It is a traditional chocolate-based dessert made of condensed milk, cocoa, and butter. These chocolate truffles are the number one choice in Brazil. Brazilian Brigadeiros are very addictive in taste: if you have one, you will want to have one more.

The article discusses Brazilian Brigadeiros, its ingredients, and all you need to know about these exquisite delicacies.

How Brazilian Brigadeiros Earned Their Name

Brazilian Brigadeiros are chocolate balls made of cocoa, butter, and condensed milk. It is named after the Brazilian hero Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes, who in the 1920s ended a coup by the communists in Rio de Janeiro. He later ran for the presidential elections in 1946. 

Since he had given voting rights to women in 1932, to support him during his presidential campaign, the females made and served Brigadeiros during his rallies and public meetings.

The traditional Brigadeiro has chocolate sprinkles as its topping. Later, it was experimented with several other types of coatings like rainbow pistachios, almonds, coconut scraping, cashews and even rainbow sprinkles. Brazilian Brigadeiros taste heavenly and the closest comparison is that of chocolate fudge melting in your mouth.

Brigadeiros Ingredients

Brazilian Brigadeiros are made from the finest ingredients available. You will need cocoa, butter, and sweetened condensed milk to prepare this delicacy. It has a shelf life of 2-3 days at room temperature. For prolonged use, you can keep them in the refrigerator. 

Before we get to know the Brazilian Brigadeiros, let’s get to know about its constituents: after all, they go a long way in making the Brigadeiros the delicacies they are.

Cocoa

Cocoa is derived from the cacao plant fruit. Since the cacao seeds have an intense bitter taste, they are fermented, dried and roasted. It is then used to extract cocoa solids and cocoa butter. At the same time, the shell of the cacao fruit is grounded to produce cacao nibs, which in turn is liquefied into chocolate liquor. This liquor is processed for cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

It is interesting to note that the use of cacao fruit is known to man from the 19th century BC. The Mayans and the Aztecs used it to prepare chocolate drinks from it. The cacao plant is said to have originated in the South Americas. Archaeological excavations in Veracruz, Mexico, indicate chocolate preparation by the pre-Olmec civilizations as early as 1750 BC.

There are three main types of cacao plants:

  • Forastero – is used to get 80-90% of the world’s cocoa supply.
  • Criollo – produces an exquisite variety of cocoa but is susceptible to diseases. 
  • Trinitario – is a hybrid of the first two. It produces better quality cocoa than the Forastero variety and is more disease resistant than the Criollo variety.  

Even though the cacao and cocoa products originated in the South Americas, in the present world, West African countries like Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are its largest producers. These countries cater to about 60% of the world’s cocoa demand of the 21st century.

For the sake of completeness, sweet chocolate is made by mixing cocoa solids, butter, and sugar. Sweet chocolate is also called Dark chocolate. Milk chocolate additionally contains milk or milk powder. White chocolate consists of cocoa butter, milk, and sugar but no cocoa solids. Unsweetened chocolate contains pure, solidified chocolate liquor.  

Condensed Milk

It is cow’s milk from which roughly 60% of the water has been removed. Sugar is added as a preservative and the condensed milk is stored in sealed containers for a long time. It can be stored for years if the container is not opened. Texture-wise, condensed milk is a white, thick, sweet paste that is usually stored in metal cans and plastic tubes.

The first reports of condensed milk are found in the writings of Marco Polo. It was in the 13th century. Later in 1820, Nicolas Appert condensed milk in France followed shortly in 1853 by Gail Borden, Jr., of the US. During the American Civil war, the US government used condensed milk as a field ration for the Union soldiers.

Condensed milk is primarily used for preparing desserts. It is also used as a tea and coffee whitener. In Russian culture, condensed milk cans were boiled in hot water for a few hours. It produced a sweet semi-liquid product, which was used as a topping for cakes.

Condensed milk is manufactured by clarifying raw milk and heating it to 85–90 °C (185–194 °F) for a few seconds. The heating process kills the microorganisms, reducing fat separation and stopping oxidation. Sugar is then added to a predetermined level, which also doubles up as a preservative.

Butter

We all know butter as a regular kitchen or dining table essential. It is also a dairy product made from protein and fat components of milk. It is semi-solid in warm conditions and hard when cooled down in a refrigerator. It constitutes approximately 80% of milk fats and is light yellow to yellow. It can also be white.

You may be surprised to know that the color of the original butter depends on the feed and genetics of the milk-producing mammals. However, during commercial manufacturing, food coloring is added to change the original shade to the desired shade. India, the US, France, and Germany are the largest producers of butter in the world. France has the highest per capita butter consumption.

How to Make Brigadeiro

Brigadeiros in wrappers
Brigadeiro

One of the reasons why the Brigadeiro is popular is its simple recipe. You can make Brigadeiros within 15 -20 minutes at your home.  The recipe is listed below for your reference:

  1. Add the ingredients in a pan and melt the mix over medium flame for a few minutes. This will help the mixture blend in. You need to cook the mixture till it becomes just dry enough not to stick to the pan edges.
  2. Take the mixture off the fire and let it cool down. To ball the dough, take small measures of it with a spoon and make small balls with greased hands. 
  3. Coat the balls with toppings of your choice. Refrigerate them immediately after preparing them. It is better to roll a batch of dough into balls first and then add the toppings rather than balling and garnishing the individual Brigadeiros.
  4. For longer shelf life, freeze the Brigadeiros. It will increase their life by up to three months. It is advisable to freeze the finished dough and not the balls. Whenever you need to serve Brigadeiros, just unfreeze the dough, make small balls out of it and garnish the freshly made balls.
  5. Place the Brigadeiros in small paper or foil candy cups, where you can buy here, and serve.

Where to Buy Brigadeiro

If cooking is not your thing, or you simply just don’t have the time, you can always buy Brigadeiros online at Amazon or Amigofoods

Conclusion

Brazilian Brigadeiros on wooden table
Brazilian Brigadeiros

We came to know several interesting facts about the Brazilian Brigadeiro. We understood that it is made of the finest ingredients a kitchen can have – cocoa, butter, and condensed milk. It is simple to make and is named after a Brazilian hero.

The original version was made by chocolate sprinkles, which nowadays is replaced by a wide range of toppings. The recipe is easy to make and has spread all over the world with the migrating Brazilian diaspora.

The Brazilian brigadeiro is one of Brazil’s most famous foods and a treat for all ages. You don’t need an excuse to make them. Any holiday, festival, or a gathering is a good enough reason for you to make these chocolate truffles and enjoy them at the comforts of your home.

If Brigadeiros sound good, take a look at these other popular Brazilian desserts

To shop for freshly imported foods and drinks from Brazil visit our online store.

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