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.