Brigadeiro is a simple but delicious chocolate dessert that is very similar to chocolate truffles. It has the distinction of being the most popular candy in the country of Brazil. Brigadeiro candy is traditionally served at all kinds of Brazilian birthday parties, pot lucks, weddings and formal dinners.
This popular chocolate treat was named after the Brazilian hero, Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes. This Brazilian Air Force brigadier general was famous for helping to put an end to a communist coup attempt in Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s and running for Brazilian president in 1946. Legends report that Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes was a handsome and dashing chap bachelor. A group of young ladies in Rio apparently thought the Brigadiero looked good enough to eat, so they created a chocolate delicacy in his honor and named the candy after his military rank.
Before the 1940s, European fruits and nuts were the favorite treats of the Brazilian people. During World War II, however, the European companies had to quit shipping to other countries. During this same time period, the multinational company Nestle® introduced their cocoa powder and canned condensed milk to the people of Brazil. As a result of both of these factors, chocolate products enjoyed a sudden surge of popularity in Brazil.
One of the reasons brigadiero chocolate candies remain so popular is because these treats are easy to make. Traditional Brigadiero recipes call for one 14-ounce (395g) can of sweetened condensed milk, one tablespoon of butter and three heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder. These ingredients should be mixed together in a saucepan until all of the chocolate is dissolved. Then the chocolate mixture is cooked over low heat and stirred constantly with a wooden spoon. The candy mixture should be cooked until the liquid slides easily and doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan when the pan is tilted. This usually takes about ten minutes.
The chocolate liquid is then transferred to a greased plate and let sit until it is cool to the touch. Then the chocolate is molded into small balls and rolled in chocolate sprinkles. The finished candy is placed into a small, paper cup.
European and American adaptions of this brigadeiro recipe sometimes call for adding a bit of brandy or dark rum to the mixture to make the brigadeiro even richer and similar to a tartufo tiramisu. The chocolate balls can also be coated with coconut flakes or crushed nuts.