Brigadeiros- Brazilian Fudge Balls

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.)

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Pictured here with Love of Nom’s in-house model, Paw. He’s a good boy and gets a fair wage in cuddles and treats.

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.

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I can’t fudge the fact that I like Brigadeiros!

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!

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One last picture with Paw; he wants one too, but chocolate isn’t good for dogs.

So how are you making your Brigadeiros? Let me know here, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at facebook.com/loveofnom and @loveofnom!


Brigadeiros

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.

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Take off the heat when you get a fudgy consistency.

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.

S’mores: Embed a marshmallow in each chocolate brigadeiro and instead of sprinkles, roll in crushed graham crackers.

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.

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Galouti Kebabs

 

You’ve probably had a kebab before. They appear in a lot of different cuisines, from Indian, to Arabic, to Mediterranean, Greek and more. You could say that most of the world agrees that kebabs should be a thing, so if you haven’t ever tried one, I recommend you do so as soon as possible!

You can get kebabs made out of a lot of different kinds of meats, or even without meat in the form of Paneer (cottage cheese) and other options. You can enjoy kebabs, in one form or the other, almost everywhere from places like Mexico, to Germany, to India, to South Korea, Japan and even Australia. But what if you have a different problem? What if you want to eat a kebab, but don’t have any teeth?

Now, if you’re thinking, “That’s the most interesting problem that I’ve never had”, then hold on a second. You don’t have to be toothless to appreciate the food I’m about to share with you.

You see, while like most of you, I (at least at the time of writing this) am not toothless, the story goes that there was once an ancient Indian king, or Nawab, who was. This king was a gastronome at heart (dare I say, nomnivore?) and wasn’t going to let a small detail like being toothless get in the way of eating kebabs. So the royal cooks set out to make a dish I consider the Nawab of kebabs – teeth optional. The result is today known as the Galouti kebab. Galawati means melt in your mouth, and if you ask me, the kebab does live up to its name.

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When you look at the texture of the kebab you’ll see why I say teeth are optional.

What makes the lamb kebab so tender that it melts in your mouth, you ask? Three things. Raw papaya, gram flour (besan) and a food processor.

Raw papaya is made into a paste and used with this recipe to soften and tenderize the meat. Its enzymes, when allowed to work on the meat overnight, start to break down the mince, allowing for a soft consistency that would not be afforded by other means.

If you’ve ever had a well made croissant, puff pastry or crepe, you know the kind of softness flour can bring to a food when cooked. While gram flour is not a very big ingredient in this particular dish, it is coated on the outside of the kebab, adding that extra softness to the texture.

Finally, yes, I know they didn’t used to have food processors and mixers when this recipe came about. However, the original recipe would call for very finely ground meat, more so than what you would find at your local grocery. If you know a specialty butcher I would recommend getting the meat ground as fine as possible from there, but follow the food processor step of the recipe as well to ensure all the ingredients come together well.

(Note: Raw Papaya is said to cause contractions in women, which can create issues for pregnant women. While the amount in this recipe is not enough to do so, you should check with your doctor before trying this recipe if you are pregnant.)


These melt in your mouth kebabs can be served as an appetizer or main course. Serve hot with onion on bread, naan, or roti if possible.

(Note: Raw Papaya is said to cause contractions in women, which can create issues for pregnant women. While the amount in this recipe is not enough to do so, you should check with your doctor before trying this recipe if you are pregnant.)

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer

Prep Time: 40 minutes + overnight marination

Cook Time: 15 minutes


Ingredients

500g minced lamb leg

1 tsp ginger paste

2 tbsp finely chopped coriander

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground mace

1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds (seeds from 1 pod, ground)

1 tsp hot chilli powder, or to taste

2 tbsp ground almonds

pinch of saffron strands

4-5 tbsp milk

3 tbsp raw papaya paste

1 tsp rosewater

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

3-4 tbsp gram flour (besan)

Vegetable oil for frying


 

Heat the ghee or butter in a pan. When hot, saute the onions until golden brown and leave to cool.

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The onions cooked in ghee add a richness to the kebab

Warm up the milk slightly and add the saffron to it, allowing it a few minutes to release its flavors into the milk. In a large mixing bowl, combine the lamb, and saffron milk with all the remaining ingredients with the exception of the gram flour. Add the onions once they are completely cool.

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Ideally marinate overnight, to give the spices a chance to impart flavor to the meat, and for the papaya to soften it

Combine well, then cover tightly with cling film and store in the fridge 6 hours to overnight.

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We should get a smooth texture once we have run mixture through a food processor

Working in batches if necessary, run the marinated lamb through a food processor until it becomes smooth in consistency. With damp hands, shape into 15 or so patties and lightly coat with the gram flour.

Heat oil on a medium-low flame. Working in batches again, fry the kebabs until browned. Enjoy hot!

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Ratatouille

I don’t know about you guys, but I am a huge fan of Pixar’s animated movies. The studio is able to bring alive light but meaningful plots with great storytelling, voice acting, and animation. They also have an attention to detail that often not even live action movies can match up to.

Still, some people might think it’s odd that a movie about a rat, that controls a human’s cooking from inside a chef’s hat no less, is what inspired me to first try out this Provençal French dish. While Ratatouille was what originally got me interested in the dish, what actually got me to make it was the discovery that the dish is extremely simple and healthy to make!

So what is Ratatouille? Ratatouille comes from the Provence region of France, and it’s said to derive from the french verb touiller, which means to stir, or to toss. So at its core it can be interpreted as tossed vegetables, but today Ratatouille almost always has garlic and herbs in a tomato base.

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While there are many, many, many variations and types of the dish, most of them, at their core, follow the veggies, tomato base, herbs and garlic template. Recipes include versions where each vegetable is cooked separately and then combined, as well as a version with saffron added to the mix. The dish can have a creamy texture or be baked in the oven. In fact, the Guardian has painstakingly put together different ways of making Ratatouille here. I recommend you check out – it is a really good look into different ways to make the dish. While you can definitely have fun with any of these ways of making Ratatouille, the recipe I am going to share with you is a simple one that you can use to make a quick and light meal, or use as a side with another dish for a more substantial meal.

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Ratatouille can be paired with carbs for a more filling meal, like with a simple pesto fusilli pictured here.

In this version of Ratatouille, we are going to let fresh vegetables shine. While we still have a tomato base, garlic, thyme and basil in the recipe, we do not want to overpower the veggies we use. We are going to be cooking the vegetables, but we will make sure the peppers have a roasted flavor, the mushrooms sweat but don’t go soft, and the zucchini has a good crunch to it. The recipe pairs really well will crusty bread, especially when it is absorbent enough to soak up the tomato and garlic sauce! Remember that while the olive oil will bring the vegetables together, it is important not to use extra virgin olive oil in the recipe since the heat will destroy its delicate flavor, leaving it with a bitter aftertaste instead (use pure olive oil if possible, but virgin olive oil will also work).

I also encourage you to customize this recipe to your own liking. Don’t like eggplant? Don’t cook with it! Want to use different herbs? Go ahead! Want to deglaze the plan? Use a half cup of light white wine! You could also cut the vegetables thinner up if you like them soft, or lightly steam them and serve with the sauce. Make this recipe yours, and let me know how it turned out!


This is a simple recipe that will take about 20 minutes. Remember to let the vegetables keep a little bit of a crunch, and serve freshly made for the best possible taste!

Serves 4 as a Main Course

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes


Ingredients

1 large red onion, cut into rings

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips

6-8 medium button mushrooms, halved

1 medium zucchini, cut into discs

1 small aubergine (eggplant), cut into discs

8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 medium tomatoes

1-3 cloves of garlic, depending on size and to taste

3-4 sprigs thyme

A handful of basil

Olive oil for frying

Salt and Pepper, to taste

 


 

Note: If your zucchini tends to have a bitter aftertaste, you may it might be worthwhile to rub the ends until you get a white froth-like substance to come out. It’ll make the zucchini a lot less bitter (pictured below.)

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Put the four tomatoes into some boiling water until the skins start to blister and peel. Rinse in cold water, then remove and discard the skins. Put the tomatoes, a clove of garlic and salt to taste in a food processor and mix until smooth. Taste sauce and add more garlic or salt if needed, making sure the garlic is properly combined.

Put the olive oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the onions to the pan. Fry until golden.

 

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We want the onions to just turn golden so that they do not overcook as we add the other vegetables.

Add the thyme and both the bell peppers and continue to cook until the pepper starts to brown.

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Make sure the pan is properly heated, or we will not be able to get the charred flavor out of the bell peppers that we are looking for.

 

Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to sweat, then add the zucchini, aubergine, cherry tomatoes and the sauce.

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The mushrooms should sweat, or release water, just like this little guy.

Bring to a gentle simmer and cover until the zucchini has softened but still has a bite to it, or around five minutes.

Add the basil and toss into the ratatouille. Serve with a little crusty bread to mop up the sauce. Enjoy hot!

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Gulab Jamun

If your food fanatic friend wanted to show you a dish involving miniature milk doughnuts in a rose-infused syrup where would you expect to be taken?

The closest hipster joint?

A hole-in-the wall place that no one has ever heard of?

An experimental cuisine place?

Maybe that one place that’s into molecular gastronomy?

How about a Michelin starred restaurant?

Now let’s say that your foodie friend didn’t want to you have any dish involving miniature milk doughnuts in a rose-infused syrup, but the freakin’ best dish involving miniature milk doughnuts in a rose-infused syrup in the world. At least he says that when he takes you back to his place. What would you think?

That he went out and got the dish with all those cool things in it from one of these fancy places, but he doesn’t want to share where he got it from?

That you are about to take part in some sort of food experiment of his?

That this is some sort of ruse or surprise for something else and the delicious sounding rose infused whatchamacallit doesn’t exist?

That this is all getting a little creepy and you should maybe tell a friend where you are?

That your friend is an overly ambitious cook who presumes to know too much about cooking? (spoiler alert: he’s not – probably.)

Imagine now (just a bit longer, I promise) that he brings out for you something that looks like this:-

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Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

You bite into it, enjoying the slight crunch you feel when you bite into the doughnut and the soft center within, all of which is soaked with a rosy sweetness (literally)

What if I told you this isn’t some newfangled kind of cuisine, your friend isn’t the world’s greatest chef (I think, although in any case you have to give him kudos for knowing this dish in the first place) and that this dish, in some form or another has been around since medieval times?

So put on your rose-tinted swimming goggles (see what I did there?) and let’s dive in!

Gulab Jamun are, in short, traditionally milk doughnuts in a rose-flavored syrup. They are one of the most eaten sweets in India, if not the most popular Indian sweet dish (although I haven’t counted or anything so it could be anything, really).

There’s a theory out there that Gulab Jamun was accidentally made by the personal chef of an Emperor called Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan is, the avid historians among you may recall, the man that commissioned the Taj Mahal (you might say he was kind of a big deal), so the fact that Gulab Jamun was made for this Emperor makes its history all the more rich.

Today you can get Gulab Jamun in almost any Indian restaurant, but unfortunately its popularity doesn’t mean you can get good Gulab Jamun just anywhere. It seems more and more that with the exception of stalls that make the Gulab Jamun fresh in front of your eyes, (and sometimes even here – they may not be fried as recently as it would look, or the dough might be older than it should be.) Gulab Jamuns are often offered as a stale, reheated dessert that is reused in buffets for Indian restaurants abroad and served on demand but not fresh in even the ‘best’ Indian restaurants. A perfect Gulab Jamun, in my opinion, has a slightly crunchy but not hard outer shell and a soft but thoroughly cooked center from its deep frying. The Jamuns (doughnuts) should be put into the rose-infused sugar syrup as soon as they are fried so that they do not dry, and absorb enough flavor to become sweet and actually taste like roses!

I used to like the store or restaurant bought Gulab Jamun cold out of the fridge, since that way they seemed to concentrate the flavor (and also so I didn’t have to heat them up – not gonna lie), but since I started making these fresh I’ve come to enjoy these warm off the pan. It’s a whole other level of awesome, especially on a cold or rainy day!

The key to good Gulab Jamun lies in making sure that as much syrup as possible is absorbed into the Jamun. For this it is important to not overcook the doughnuts, and to immediately put them in the syrup after frying so that they do not dry out. Enjoy freshly made if you can!


Serves 8 for a small dessert

For the Jamuns

150g dried milk powder

75g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

50 ml whole milk

Oil for deep frying (Vegetable, Canola, etc)

 

For the rose syrup

300g caster sugar

250ml water

2.5 tbsp rosewater


Put all the dry ingredients  for the Jamuns in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the melted butter.

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Well well well….

Mix until the ingredients come together, then add just enough milk to bring the ingredients together in a stiff dough. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

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The dough should come together if pressed, but still be dry and easy to crumble

Meanwhile, heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then gently simmer until it forms a single string when poured from a spoon, about 8-10 minutes. Take off the heat and add the rose water.

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The syrup should come off the spoon in a wire-thin but continuous pour

With a light, damp hand, roll out the dough into balls roughly the size of a ping-pong ball. Keep the raw balls under a damp kitchen towel to keep them from drying out. Do not make the balls too compact, since this will reduce their softness and make them less absorbent of the syrup after frying.

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Keeping the balls covered until they are fried helps prevent them from drying out.

To deep fry, heat up oil in a karahi, wok or other deep circular cooking pot. There should be enough oil to submerge three-fourths each ball. Over medium-low heat, deep fry no more than three to four balls at a time, turning continuously with a slotted spoon to ensure even browning. We want the outside of each ball to cook but remain soft while the outside becomes golden brown. When golden brown, remove the balls with the slotted spoon, briefly drain them by holding against the side of the pot. Immediately dunk and coat the doughnut in the syrup to keep it soft and allow it to absorb syrup.

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Using a deep, curved pot as pictured is ideal for deep frying. Remember to fry the doughnuts slowly and dunk them into the syrup immediately after.

Allow the doughnuts a few minutes to absorb the syrup, and enjoy hot!DSC_0883.JPG