Brigadeiros are fudgy, truffle-like chocolate balls from Brazil. They're insanely easy to make, and you'll have a go-to treat for every birthday party from here on out.
I had my first brigadeiro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. First off, I LOVE Brazil. The music, the art, the colors, the people... It's full of a frenetic, positive energy that I can really tap into. Too much, sometimes.
I was traveling with my friends Beth and Meredith, and we had a pretty big night out in Lapa, an industrial neighborhood with some amazing samba clubs. The next day we took a bus tour around Rio, and I was feeling... rough. You know when you're so excited to see something and then you just ruin it for yourself? That was me.
Anyway, we headed into Santa Theresa, with its famous red stairs and art installations, and I began to perk up. And then, we rounded a corner, and there she was - a tiny, grandmotherly woman, set up in a roadside stand, surrounded by clamoring people. We inched closer. What was all the fuss about?
Our guide let us know she was selling brigadeiros, a beloved national treat; essentially, the cupcake or chocolate chip cookie of Brazil. I bought one and stared at it. Could I even eat it? Would my caipirinha-soaked stomach tolerate this neutron bomb of chocolate and sprinkles? I looked over and watched Beth take a bite, closing her eyes dramatically. Then she stuffed the whole thing in her mouth. Then she bought another one.
I closed my eyes and went for it. And it was divine. My hangover lifted magically, the headache and nausea receding in a wave of chocolate-induced serotonin. And my love affair with the brigadeiro began.
It was Beth's birthday last weekend, and I knew just the right surprise - a box of rainbow-crusted brigadeiros. A departure from traditional chocolate sprinkles, but totally acceptable when celebrating the birthday of a fabulous travel buddy and a gorgeous soul. One who understands the magic of a perfectly timed bite of chocolate.
Cook Time: 10 minutes Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus 90 minutes cooling Total Time: 2 hours
14 oz / 400 g can sweetened condensed milk
4 Tbs dark chocolate cocoa powder
2 Tbs salted butter, plus extra for greasing
8 oz / 225 g rainbow or chocolate sprinkles
First, in a medium saucepan over low heat, combine condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 8 minutes. The mixture will thicken, and once it's ready, will hold its shape for a few seconds when you drag a spoon across the bottom of the pan.
Pour the mixture onto a greased plate and let cool, unrefrigerated, for about 90 minutes.
Once cooled, use a teaspoon to scoop out a small chunk. Grease your hands with butter, and roll the chocolate into a round ball. Drop the ball in sprinkles, roll it around, and transfer to a mini muffin or truffle cup.
I usually roll out about 6 balls at a time, and use a bowl for sprinkles that allows me to easily fit all of them in at once. You may need to wash your hands a few times, between the butter, mushy chocolate, and sprinkles, so it's good to work out a system where you make them in batches.
Store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.