Brazilian desserts are typically pretty sweet and a lot of them use sweetened condensed milk, like these chocolate fudgy-like truffles called brigadeiros (pronounced bree-ga-DAY-ros). The most popular sweet in Brazil, eaten from north to south, by rich and poor, they were traditionally rolled in sprinkles and served at children’s birthday parties (we used to eat at least 5 of those at a time, but don’t tell my kids). We also make brigadeiro cakes in Brazil, which are made by filling and frosting an entire chocolate cake by spreading a recipe or two of brigadeiros on it. That too, I am yet to tell my kids…
In the last few years, brigadeiros have been revamped into gourmet sweets (docinhos) that are now served at weddings and any other occasion, from picnics to corporate events. There are many “boutiques” in Brazil dedicated entirely to these treats, serving them in little jars, tubes, spoons, rolled in different nuts or prepared in a variety of flavors (yes, caipirinha flavor, too). My kids love the good old version of chocolate sprinkles for their birthday parties, but I prefer a more grown-up flavor like rolling them in cacao nibs (I love the bitter/sweet balance of this combination) or, my latest, a variety of tiny seeds and grains from a little package I discovered the other day at Trader Joe’s. I remembered seeing chocolate truffles covered with seeds at the Borough Market in London during our vacation there last month. I was drooling over them staring from the store window as my family begged me to keep walking. It became my new favorite: it keeps the brigadeiro flavor simple as in my childhood memories, with a little added crunchiness (I promise you it does not hurt the taste of indulgence).
They are so good that they are on the addictive category… I suggest you serve a few, keep a few and gift the rest to friends or work colleagues. I send extras (of almost anything) to Romas’ work. That way I never have to bump into temptation on my kitchen counter when all I’m doing is going for an innocent glass of water. When the treats are good, I ask him to walk around the office offering to people. When they are not the greatest, I tell him to “dispose” of them on the kitchen counter anonymously… sorry, Romas’ work colleagues. And thanks for helping us not waste any food.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the consistency right the first time. If it is undercooked and too soft, serve it in little cups with spoons and toppings. If it is overcooked and chewy, you can also roll them and eat as well. Even failed brigadeiro is good! You should definitely try the original version, rolled in sprinkles (preferably the kinds that are made with real chocolate), to know what this Brazilian national icon is all about.