Full disclosure – I LOVE fudge. I first took to it when I went to college in the Midwest United States, where a friend gifted me some rich, delicious, and home-made fudge. I had tried fudge before, but mostly only of the store-bought variety. The taste of fresh fudge made with love, of course, trumps anything you can buy in a store. So thanks to my friend (you know who you are), I wanted, no, needed more fudge in my life, but didn’t have a good recipe! (You may say, “Adit, couldn’t you have asked your friend for her recipe?” In retrospect, yes, yes I could’ve indeed.)
Fast forward a few months to my sister’s birthday. For the sake of this post all you really need to know is that she is the epitome of a chocoholic. As in she loves chocolate so much that she has chocolate withdrawal symptoms if she goes more than a week or so without chocolate. Chocolate is, presumably outside of her big brother, her favorite thing in the world (Disclaimer: She hasn’t ever actually told me she likes me more than chocolate.)
OK, it is a chocoholic’s birthday, so its pretty obvious I’d want to make something chocolaty for her. Now my sister had already asked me to make my brownies (recipe for that coming soon, I promise!) and I was going to make a chocolate cake for her as well, but I wanted to do something she wasn’t expecting.
Given that she was and is a chocoholic, it needed to be chocolate flavored, but keeping in mind the fact that I needed also make brownies and cake it needed to be something easy to do. The fudge was still on my mind too, so was there a way to make something fudgy, chocolaty, and simple that was good for a birthday treat?
Turns out Brazil had an answer for me in Brigadeiros. A Brigadeiro a type of fudge ball that is enjoyed throughout Brazil, and is eaten during a range of events ranging from birthdays and baby-showers to reunions. It is also a comfort food that can be eaten while binge watching TV or in times of heartache.
I can see why! Brigadeiros are easy to make, perfectly bite-sized and delicious! Even without from the cultural significance these hold in Brazil, I would eat these whenever I could!
While traditional fudge consists of sugar, milk and butter, Brigadeiros use condensed milk, butter, and a little bit of cream. The condensed milk, in addition to already being thickened a little, removes the need to add sugar, while the cream adds that extra bit of texture and richness.
Then there’s the cocoa, chocolate and sprinkles. I highly recommend keeping your Brigadeiros small because this recipe is a chocolate explosion in your mouth! Once you bite in you’ll feel the crunch of the sprinkles, followed by the soft and intense chocolate on the inside.
Now, if you aren’t a big chocolate fan, you can make a lighter chocolate Brigadeiro by removing the semisweet chocolate from the recipe below, or make your own flavor! In Brazil you’d get Brigadeiros in different flavors, like fruit, tea, dry fruits and nuts, alcoholic beverages, and Nutella, so the recipe can be used as a template to try out your own flavors!
Brigadeiros are also extremely versatile. As mentioned above they are served for all kinds of occasions and comfort foods in Brazil, but it can also make a perfect bite-sized sweet treat to take with lunch or on a picnic, as long as you can keep it cold. If you’d like to dress up this dish as a dessert, you can serve them to guests pre-plated in spoons for a an impressive looking and satisfying last bite for any meal. The chocolate ones in the recipe here are a great bite to pair with a cup of strong black coffee, and you could even add bits of crushed cookies or flavored chocolate on the inside of the fudge ball by rolling them in. The possibilities are endless!
So how are you making your Brigadeiros? Let me know here, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at facebook.com/loveofnom and @loveofnom!
Prep Time: 5 hours required in the fridge
Cook Time: 15 mins to make the fudge + 15 mins to shape and finish the fudge balls.
Makes 20-24 Fudge Balls
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 14-oz. (400g) cans sweetened condensed milk
3 oz. good quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 cup chocolate sprinkles
Combine the butter, milk and cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low flame and add the cocoa and chocolate. Stir continuously so that nothing sticks to the bottom.
When the mixture starts to stick together and develop a fudgy consistency (about 15 minutes), take off the heat and transfer to a container. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until it has cooled completely and lost its stickiness.
Roll the fudge into balls with your hands, using about a half tablespoon’s worth of fudge for each ball. If the fudge starts to get warm and sticky, put back in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up. The balls should be small bite sized. Put the chocolate sprinkles in a shallow dish or plate, and roll the Brigadeiros in the sprinkles. Chill for another hour before serving.
Variations: While Brigadeiros most commonly are available in chocolate, in Brazil you will find them in multiple flavors and with different coatings. The fudge (condensed milk, cream and butter) will stay the same, but here are a few flavor ideas:-
Vanilla: Cut a vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Put the bean without the seeds in when you bring the milk, cream and butter to a boil, and remove it after this step. Add the vanilla seeds in just after you take the fudge off the heat and stir in thoroughly.
Coffee: Add either 1-2 shots of espresso or 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee (or to taste) when after the milk has been brought to a boil.
Peanut Butter: Stir in 2-4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, to taste, into the hot fudge. You can also make peanut butter an chocolate Brigadeiros this way.
While this recipe uses chocolate sprinkles, you can also use white chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, slivered almonds, powdered sugar, cocoa powder (cocoa powder and powdered sugar are a good combination as well), cocoa nibs, or dried coconut as the coating.