- 1 (14) Ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ Cup miniature chocolate chips
- Butter, for rolling
- Sprinkles, for rolling
Pour the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips into a small saucepan and place the pan over medium-high heat.
Stirring constantly, cook the sweetened condensed milk until thickened. You’ll know it’s ready when you draw a line through the sweetened condensed milk and it takes a few seconds for the line to fill itself back in.
Pour the cooked sweetened condensed milk into a wide, shallow dish (like a heat-proof baking dish) and allow it to cool.
When the sweetened condensed milk has cooled, rub a small amount of butter on your hands and then roll the sweetened condensed milk into small balls. Roll each ball into your choice of sprinkles, coarse sanding sugar, chopped nuts, or shredded coconut.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
It is always the simple things in life that matter. Sometimes they become the most extraordinary things. Brigadeiro, a delicious Brazilian chocolate ball candy that is known all around the world is a classic example to the above context. An effortless sweet with no complex ingredients or techniques involved, has unanimously won the popularity contest.
What is the origin of brigadeiro?
The history of the brigadeiro recipe has some interesting spins to it including a tragicomedy situation. But let’s stick only to the more plausible and known scenarios.
One of the popular stories is that the sweet originated in 1945 with a political context to it. The then Brazilian Brigadier (Brigadeiro in Portuguese) Eduardo Gomes contested for the Presidential elections that year. Being single and handsome, he was very popular and admired among the female circles.
They came up with an excellent idea and advocated for him raising the slogan – “Vote for Brigadeiro, who is beautiful and single”. Then they also made these sweet little candies and sold them on the streets requesting votes from the people for the elections.
The other version says that his wife made these during his campaign fundraising parties and they instantly became a massive hit. Everyone started talking “did you have the brigadeiro’s candy?” and hence it came to be known as Brigadeiro. Thus the world famous Brazilian chocolates came into existence.
When and where are they made?
No children’s birthday party in Brazil is complete without these chocolate candies. These are like the chocolates that we grew up eating, to the Brazilian kids.
Now, this custom is further extended to weddings and other celebrations as well. One of the main reasons that it is so popular in Brazil is because it is a true party food. You can have fun right from the beginning of making it to wiping it clean off the pot. All you need are a few friends to gather around.
The popularity of this Brazilian candy is definitely not limited to the Portuguese-speaking country alone. A sweet that was usually made during children’s birthday party, has gained an exotic status in the dessert category. According to one’s choice, confectioners around the world are embellishing it in different ways.
How to make brigadeiro
Traditionally, these little candies are made using only three ingredients. Many ingredients including the basics like milk, sugar, eggs, and fresh fruits, generally the key ingredients in making confectioneries or candies, were rationed during the World War II period. So this dessert was improvised using concentrated milk (condensed or reduced), cocoa and butter.
Even though it is very simple to make, you have to know how long and how much to cook. The right consistency depends on it. In the native language, it is called ponto certo, meaning the right point to take it off the stove.
But don’t worry mastering it is not a herculean task. If you are familiar with fudge and candy preparations, you can easily identify this in one or two attempts at the maximum. What is important is to cook on low to medium heat and to remove it from the heat when the whole mixture slides off the pan when you tilt it.
Keeping this is mind, you can make these little confectionaries without hassle. And if you really love the taste of these Brazilian delicacies, you can make a brigadeiro cake (bolo de brigadeiro), by using the same mixture for the filling and the icing.
This brigadeiro recipe is validated by our Brazilian culinary expert Denise Browning, author of culinary blog Easy and Delish.
Pour the condensed milk into your heaviest pot. Stir in the cocoa powder and the salt.
Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat. Keep the mixture barely at a boil to prevent burning and sticking.
Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes very thick and shiny and starts to pull away from the bottom and sides of the pan.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
Chill in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes. With buttered hands, roll the mixture into 1-inch balls.
Roll each ball in the chocolate sprinkles and place in a paper cup.
Chill until ready to serve.
These are the 3 ingredients you’ll need for this easy brigadeiro recipe:
- Sweet condensed milk
- Chocolate powder – you know, the kind you add to milk like Nesquik, or Nescau, widely used in Brazil.
- Sprinkles – brigadeiro without sprinkles should be considered a crime!
This sweet treat is so easy to make, I’ve been making it since I was a kid.
The recipe is extremely simple, but there are a few little tricks you need to know to ensure your brigadeiro balls come out perfect every time. Check out the deets below!
Brigadeiros Are My Rich, Fudgy Holiday Gift of Choice
The only thing better than a good recipe? When something's so easy to make that you don't even need one. Welcome to It's That Simple, a column where we talk you through the process of making the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.
When I give a box of brigadeiros as a holiday gift, my friends inevitably ask me if they’re truffles. But while brigadeiros may look like truffles, they’re softer, silkier, chewier, and more voluptuous. I always joke that they have a very Brazilian personality.
Brigadeiros go back decades in Brazil. The name comes from Eduardo Gomes, an early 20th-century Brazilian political and air force brigadier. Sweetened condensed milk became popular in Brazil in the 1940s when, according to Atlas Obscura, the war made ingredients previously used in desserts, like fruits and nuts, harder to come by—these candies were created by combining this new sweet milk with chocolate powder.
Like many iconic foods, the brigadeiro has a disputed origin story, but one prominent tale is that women sold these candies at Gomes’ rallies for president in 1945 and called them “brigadeiros” in his honor. (Women were critical to Gomes’s campaign efforts because he ran in the first national election in which at least some women were allowed to vote.) While Gomes was defeated, the confection named in his honor is now a standard in cafés, snack bars, and restaurants throughout the country, with fancified flavors—like churro and caipirinha—gaining popularity.
The traditional recipe is quick and easy. The only tricky part is knowing how far to cook it: Undercook it and it won’t be stiff enough to roll overcook it and it will be too chewy, like a caramel.
Here’s how to do it: Pour 2 cans sweetened condensed milk in a medium stainless steel saucepan. Add 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter and 4 Tbsp. heavy cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Once boiling, add 3 ounces (90 grams) bittersweet chocolate (72% or 85%) and 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder. Using a whisk, mix well to make sure the chocolate is melted and the cocoa powder is dissolved. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook, whisking constantly, until it reaches the consistency of a dense fudge batter, about 8 to 10 minutes. If you swirl the pan around, it should hold together, almost like a pâte à choux, where the dough balls together. It’s very important to use low heat and stir constantly otherwise, the bottom of the pan will burn before the consistency of the fudge is correct.
Slide the mixture into a flat baking dish, without scraping any of the sticky film on the bottom of the pan. Cool to room temperature, wrap well, and chill completely in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. You can make the fudge up to 5 days ahead of rolling.
Then, when you’re ready to shape, the fun begins: Call any children in the house and scrunch up your sleeves. Place 1 cup chocolate sprinkles (I like Guittard, India Tree, and Callebaut look for sprinkles made with real chocolate and stay away from brands that contain vegetable fat) in a tray or baking dish. Scoop the mixture by the teaspoon and use your hands to roll each into a little ball, about ¾" in diameter. Drop them into the sprinkles and roll to cover the entire ball. Store in an airtight plastic container in the fridge once you roll them into little balls, the brigadeiro will start crystallizing within 2–3 days. Whenever I have to make brigadeiros for a party, I make the batch a week ahead but shape them the day before. Let them come to room temperature before serving.
Over the years, I've rolled hundreds of thousands of brigadeiros in classes, parties, events, and for holidays gifts. But my favorite people to roll brigadeiros with are my children. We make an assembly line: One person forms the balls, one person rolls them in sprinkles, and one person places them on a little paper candy cup. Together we work like a machine. Perhaps Gomes himself would be proud.
Leticia Moreinos Schwartz is a chef and cookbook author based in Connecticut.
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (such as La Lechera®)
- 2 tablespoons powdered cocoa (such as Nestle®)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup chocolate sprinkles, or as needed
Combine condensed milk, cocoa, and 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until brigadeiro mixture thickens and pulls away from the bottom and sides when the pan is tilted, 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let brigadeiro mixture cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Scoop teaspoonfuls of the brigadeiro mixture and roll into balls with greased hands.
Spread chocolate sprinkles on a shallow plate. Dip and roll brigadeiros in sprinkles.
Our Amazing Friends
"It was a pleasure working with Erika on bringing the delicious Brazilian truffles to our office in celebration of employee birthdays and work anniversaries! I've never seen my co-workers so excited to try this delicacy and come back for more throughout the day. The special care and dedication Erika puts into the amazing truffles, packaging, and customer service is extraordinary!"
Obrigaderia was an excellent addition to our babyshower! The brigadeiros were amazing, and all of my guests loved them. Definitely a must have at any event!
How Long Can You Keep Brigadeiros?
Your Brigadeiro should last in the fridge for about a week. There aren’t any easily perishable ingredients in this recipe, so there is no need to worry about them staying fresh.
However, once the can of Sweetened Condensed Milk is open, I normally give it about a week before I throw it out. I would follow the same guidelines for your Brigadeiro.
If you make this recipe and love it, don’t forget to leave a comment on my post telling me what you thought! And ALWAYS remember to post a photo on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #TheForeignFork and tag @TheForeignFork.
If you liked this recipe, don’t forget to check out some of the other recipes on my site I’ve picked out just for you!:
Brazilian Chocolate Shortages
Creating a new kind of confectionery item in 1945 wasn’t easy. Post-war food shortages meant that milk and sugar were scarce. Supporters of Eduardo Gomes had to get creative.
In place of sugar and milk used in traditional milk chocolate, Rio de Janeiro confectioner Heloisa Nabuco de Oliveira found a way to use readily available condensed milk. This provided sweetness and creaminess and was easy to combine with locally produced cocoa powder.
The Original Brigadeiro Brazilian Chocolate Recipe
To make 8 traditional Brigadeiro balls, only the following ingredients are needed.
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 14 oz (395g) of condensed milk
- ¼ cup (30g) of raw, preferably organic cocoa powder
- 1 cup of chocolate sprinkles
To get started, melt the butter and condensed milk in a large frying pan or skillet over low heat. Next, add your cocoa powder and start stirring continuously.
Made correctly, Brigadeiro mixtures will quickly start to resemble melted chocolate. However, it is important to keep stirring until the mixture is thick enough to start to shape.
When ready, set the Brigadeiro mixture aside and allow to cool. When chilled, the mixture should be firm enough to be able to roll into small balls, which can then be rolled in chocolate sprinkles.
Brigadeiro Recipe Variations
At Santa Barbara Chocolate, we love the Brigadeiro truffle as it is one of the easiest confectionery items anyone can make at home. There are also several recipe variations which can be experimented with like replacing the cocoa powder with chocolate. One popular option is to roll Brigadeiro balls in coconut sprinkles. Others see Brigadeiro balls infused with crushed nuts, white chocolate, dark chocolate, and cream.
The Brigadeiro also serves a perfect dessert to make with traditional Brazilian chocolate and responsibly sourced cocoa powder. This is thanks to the fact that condensed milk brings out the full flavor of raw cocoa, without the chocolates being too sweet or too rich.
How The Brigadeiro Became World Famous
Sadly for Eduardo Gomes, the creation of the Brigadeiro was not enough to win him the Brazilian election in 1945. However, the Brigadeiro itself was successful in winning the hearts, minds, and tastebuds of everyday Brazilians.
Today, over fifty gourmet Brigadeiro recipe variations can be sampled in Brazilian restaurants and boutique candy stores. They are also made by millions of Brazilians at home, as a staple chocolate dessert. The only question is, have you tried it yet?
Wanting to make a chocolate dessert without having to turn on the oven? Brigadeiros are extremely easy to make at home and you just need 5 ingredients! You might want to double the amount of ingredients because these are so addictive you won’t be eating just one.
I love to make Brigadeiros for parties! They are such a good finger food and you can play around with their presentation combining colors, textures and flavors.
Don’t forget to use high quality ingredients for this dessert. When having a recipe with so short amount of ingredients, being chocolate the main one, it is important not to be cheap to achieve the best results. The Brazilian Chocolate with 68% cocoa solids from Santa Barbara Chocolate is a dream for this dessert.
- 1 can of condensed milk (14 oz)
- ¼ cup of Brazilian Chocolate
- 1 tbsp of Rainforest Bulk Cocoa Powder
- A pinch of salt
- In a large saucepan, over low heat, add all the condensed milk.
- After about a minute, continuously stirring with a plastic or wooden spoon, add the Brazilian Chocolate.
- Keep stirring until all your chocolate is completely melted. Make sure you don’t stop stirring or your heat is too high because it is extremely easy to burn chocolate and it can hurt more than a broken heart.
- Having your melted chocolate and condensed milk together, sift in the cocoa powder and salt. Mix well to combine until thick.
- Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture to a previously greased sheet pan.
- Let it cool down to room temperature before touching it.
- When cool, grease your hands with some butter and start to shape your Brigadeiros!
- The conventional shape is a little ball that is made using about a tbsp. of mixture. You can choose how big or small you want to make them. Also, don’t think you can only make Brigadeiro balls sticks, squares, use it as ganache, all is possible!
- After making your shape of choice, cover them in sprinkles.
Because I love homemade treats, and to make all by scratch, I’ll show you how you can make condensed milk to use for this or any other recipe.
- Place a large saucepan over low heat.
- Add the whole milk, sugar and salt.
- Slightly stir and heat the mixture on low until all the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, playing a bit with medium and low heat. Don’t stir during this process or the condensed milk won’t be smooth.
- The mixture needs to simmer for about 30 minutes. You’ll know when is ready because it will be thick and with a darker color.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool down before using it.
- Store it in a glass jar and it can last up to 6 months in the refrigerator!
The best thing about making your own condensed milk is that you can play around a bit adding a pinch of cinnamon or cocoa powder to give it some special flavor.
Pour the condensed milk into a heavy based saucepan. Sift the cocoa powder on top and mix in along with the salt.
Cook, stirring constantly, over a low heat, keeping the mixture barely simmering to prevent burning and sticking and cook for 10-15 mins, until mixture becomes very thick and shiny and starts to pull away from the bottom and sides of the pan.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter and the vanilla. Scrape into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool then chill for about 30 mins.
Divide the mixture into approx.20 pieces and each piece into a ball – if the mixture is too sticky to handle, brush your hands light with a little vegetable oil.
Put the chocolate strands on a small plate and roll each sweetie in the strands to coat all over then place in a small cake case and chill until ready to serve.