Brigadeiros

Satisfying (& totally worth it) toothache with just 4 ingredients… that’s what you get with a brigadeiro.

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Brigadeiros are a traditional Brazilian dessert, they’re super sweet, gooey, dense & covered in sprinkles, they resemble a fudgy chocolate truffle. The brigadeiro is considered a national icon in Brazil.

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It’s origins data back to 1945 when the confection was actually made as a means of support & raising money for Eduardo Gomes, a Brigadier (hence the name) entered into the presidential election, to fund his campaign. It is said that Eduardo, a handsome & single man (he even used this as a selling point in his campaign!), was popular with the ladies. It was these devoted female voters who would make & sell brigadeiros to promote his campaign.

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Due to a lack of fresh milk & sugar post-war, they had to resort to using sweetened condensed milk, mixing it with butter & chocolate to make sweets. The mixture was shaped by hand into little balls before being rolled in chocolate sprinkles & placed in small cupcake cases. Despite these efforts though, poor Eduardo never won the election but Brazil was left with an iconic dessert (so it wasn’t all bad).

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Today, bridageiros are usually enjoyed after birthday cake at children’s parties & at various social events or get togethers. If you’re feeling super indulgent then it can even be enjoyed straight from the saucepan, eaten with a spoon (just like you would with Nutella), this is refered to as ‘brigadeiro de coher’ (spoon bridgadeiro).

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My first experience of brigadeiros is far less exotic however, I didn’t even leave Wales (& it was a somewhat grey & gloomy affair). I discovered this ridiculously sweet delight completely by accident. Me & my partner in crime were on drive in the countryside when we happened upon a quaint farm shop, hidden away on a large estate in the hills near Brecon.

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Obviously, with me being in the car we simply had to stop to explore the prospect of food. What we found was a very reasonably priced haven of fresh produce, the kind where everything still had the dirt from the ground it came from upon it (this sort of thing excites me).

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Tucked away by the honesty box was a small tupperware container holding a rather tempting array of very chocolatey looking treats… brigadeiros! Next to the box was small scrap of cardboard stating their price & that these were being sold to raise money for charity. We quickly parted with two one pound coins with good intentions of bringing our treats home for dessert that night. We didn’t make it, we scoffed them both at the scene & quickly fell in love with the sweet, squidgy, immense chocolate heaven (we also wished that we’d had more change on us at the time!). I immediately vowed to recreate this heavenly treat at home, so here they are in all their glory…

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BRIGADEIROS
(makes around 22)

Ingredients:

  • 397g tin of condensed milk
  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 70g chocolate sprinkles
  • A little olive oil for shaping

Method:

  • Pour & spread the sprinkles out onto a small plate
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large heavy bottomed saucepan
  • Cook the mixture over a medium heat for around 10 minutes until it has thickened
  • Leave the mixture to cool until it is cool enough to handle
  • Use a little olive oil to grease your hands, this will stop the mixture from sticking
  • Taking spoonfuls of the mixture at a time, use your hands to roll into little balls
  • Toss the balls though the sprinkles until fully coated
  • Store in boxes or mini cupcake cases

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