Recipe: Brigadeiro from Brazil

By Anna Keyes

We welcome this guest post by Anna Keyes, part of the Arts Midwest extended family and our resident expert on Brazilian language and culture. Anna spent a year studying and living with families in Brazil and maintains close ties there.

Where American birthdays have cake, Brazilian birthdays have brigadeiro. These sweet chocolate treats are a favorite around the country, and it’s easy to see why. They are reminiscent of chocolate fudge, but with a flavor all their own—and they only require four ingredients!

Patience is the key with these simple, delicious treats. Lots of stirring and a little waiting, and you have a decadent dessert that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

What you need:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp butter, plus more for the pan and your hands
2-4 Tbsp unsweetended cocoa (see hint below)
Chocolate sprinkles
Mini paper baking cups

Brigadeiro ingredients
Photo by Anna Keyes

Alternate toppings:
Crushed peanuts or pistachios
Shredded coconut
Crushed Oreo cookies

Instructions:
1. Grease a shallow pan with butter or cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, heat sweetened condensed milk, butter, and cocoa until boiling, being sure to work out any lumps of cocoa. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken and become shiny. You will know it’s ready when you can divide it in half with a spoon and it stays parted for a few seconds.

Mixing brigadeiro
Photo by Anna Keyes

3. Pour mixture into your greased pan and stick in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.

4. Place your sprinkles or other toppings in small bowls. Using a spoon, scoop out enough to form a 1-inch ball of the mixture and roll in well-greased hands. Roll the ball in the sprinkles and place in the mini paper baking cups.

5. Return to fridge for another 30+ minutes to firm up again.

6. Eat and enjoy!

Finished brigadeiro
Photo by Anna Keyes

Depending on the size, one can of sweetened condensed milk will make 15-25 chocolate treats.

I’ve never seen a leftover brigadeiro, but if you need to, these will last two days at room temperature or a week in the fridge in a tightly sealed container.

Hints:
I used fancy cocoa because that’s what I had on hand, but Hershey’s is just as good. Just make sure it’s unsweetened!

If you want your brigadeiro to be a bit sweeter, use less cocoa. If you want a more prominent chocolate flavor, use more. I used 2 heaping tablespoons for a nice, mellow chocolate flavor.

While it is hard to wait, allowing the mixture to fully cool before rolling will make it much easier to handle.

Keep the butter handy when you are rolling and use it liberally!

For each can of sweetened condensed milk, you will need at least two small containers of sprinkles or one large. I had one small container, and it wasn’t enough.

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