Chocolate around the world: Brazil’s Brigadeiros

3 Jun 2021

Chocolate Knowledge

Brigadeiros are little balls of sweet delight from Brazil. Read on to get a taste of this taste bud treasure…

Brazil may be known for its carnivals, tropical beaches, and football prowess but our favourite part of Brazilian culture is its food. From their famous Feijoada stew to its passionfruit mousse, the food from this country is always delicious but one dish in particular makes us swoon: brigadeiros.

By the end of this article, you’ll probably be wanting to follow our brigadeiro recipe yourself, so you may want to buy some Cooking Chocolate and Cocoa Powder to be prepared… 

Cocoa powder for brigadeiros

What is a brigadeiro?

If you’ve never been to Brazil or researched Brazilian food, you’re probably unsure of what brigadeiros are. Let us explain. A brigadeiro is a traditional dessert in Brazil made from sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter. People usually form them in the shape of a ball, cover them in chocolate sprinkles, and place them in paper cupcake cases.  

Brigadeiros are easily the most popular dessert in Brazil and is served at all festive events, including weddings and birthday parties. They are particularly popular at children’s birthday parties, where it always follows the cake.

Why is it called brigadeiro?

It’s thought that the name brigadeiro closely ties to the origin of this sweet treat. In 1946, Brigadier Eduardo Gomes ran for presidency, and Heloísa Nabuco de Oliveira, a confectioner, created this new sweet to show her support for him. The election marked the start of women having the right to vote in Brazil. They began selling brigadeiros to show support for Eduardo. He didn’t win the election, but his namesake chocolates have certainly won our hearts.

It was originally called ‘doce de brigadeiro’, which means ‘brigadier’s sweet’, but people later shortened it to brigadeiro.

How to make brigadeiros

One of the reasons that these brigadeiros have stood the test of time is that they’re very easy to make. All you need is condensed milk, butter, cocoa powder, and some chocolate sprinkles for decoration. Then just follow these simple instructions.

  1. Put the butter, condensed milk, and cocoa powder in a saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes until the mixture is nice and thick.
  2. Stir in any flavourings you fancy.
  3. Pour the mixture onto a plate and leave to cool for 2 hours.
  4. Pull off parts of the dough and roll them into small balls.
  5. Roll the balls in chocolate sprinkles and place them in cupcake cases.

You can keep your brigadeiros in a cool place in an airtight container for three days or in the fridge for up to a week.  

brigadeiro mixture

What do brigadeiros taste like?

Brigadeiros are unique little sweets, so it can be tricky to describe what they taste like. Chocolate fans often compare them to truffles because they have a similar formation and rich taste. However, their consistency is chewier and therefore more comparable to toffee. 

The classic taste is intensely chocolatey. When making your own brigadeiros, why not try using some of our Luxury Cocoa Powder? It has a deep, mellow flavour with classic cocoa notes. Plus, it’s full of antioxidants!

Alongside the classic brigadeiro recipe, the Brazilian treats come in lots of delicious varieties these days. One popular variation is coconut brigadeiros, which use coconut milk and desiccated coconut. Another is a peanut version, made with added peanut butter and then rolled in chopped peanuts. 

However, when it comes to brigadeiro flavours, the sky’s the limit. Whether you want to make them fruity, nutty, or extra-sweet, it’s easy to do. You can even make white chocolate brigadeiros by replacing the cocoa powder with chunks of white chocolate. We recommend going for white chocolate with a high cocoa butter content, like our White Chocolate Batons, for a truly creamy texture.

Our truffles

We might not make brigadeiros (just yet, at least), but we do make truffles, which are — in our humble opinion — just as delicious. From Rum Truffles to Lime Chocolate Truffles, we have a whole range of these delights. Soft and velvety smooth, our truffles melt in the mouth a little more than brigadeiros.

Additionally, if you now fancy some chocolate with a South American flair, you may like to check out our R&V Colombia Almond Praline Selector, our R&V Honduras Pistachio Praline Selector, and our Dark Chocolate Brazil Nuts.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about these Brazilian treats as much as us. Whether you’re looking for something new to try out in the kitchen or want to rustle up some sweets to surprise a loved one with, we think brigadeiros are perfect. And choosing high-quality cocoa ingredients will add that extra layer of finesse.

Now, who knows how to say “enjoy!” in Portuguese?