Oct 30, 2011

Appendix 1a: Brigadeiro and Brigadeiro Hack




Brigadeiros (portuguese for "Brigadiers") are traditional and very popular Brazilian treats, often served at birthday parties. No child has had a complete childhood if it did not involve Brigadeiro. But it is never too late to make up for it--make some now. To this day, all the birthday cakes I have ever had were Brigadeiro cakes. I think. Anyway, you do not have to be a child to appreciate these. I have now written a detailed recipe for traditional Brigadeiro and for the frosting-appropriate Brigadeiro Hack.




 In its typical form, it is rolled to a small ball, not much bigger than a big grape. It then proceeds to be rolled in sprinkles and placed in small paper or aluminum forms. I am yet to find someone in the US who sells tiny ones. But fear not, they don't actually need to be served in those. I imagine the reason we do it that way is to avoid getting hands messy. Brigadeiros can just as easily be served "naked," or in cups and on cakes. Really, once you are a confident brigadeiro maker, you can do a google image search for "brigadeiro" and get lots of inspiration of how it can be modified or served.

It is not uncommon for teenage girls to make a pan's worth when they have a movie night, and scoop it up with spoons. You can cover strawberries with it. You can roll the little balls in cocoa powder, nuts, or sugar. Fancy coffee shops can serve one on the saucer to show customers how awesome they are. It is a simple recipe, and all you need to know is how runny you want it to be. The original recipe is for the rolled brigadeiros, like the ones on the picture above. Although you could cover a cake with it, it does get rather sticky as frosting, which is fine if you have a samurai sword handy. So, with that in mind, I will also add the Brigadeiro Hack, which is the solution I created for the sticky problem. Let me know if you have a better idea.

Tip: you can usually find these ingredients in any grocery store, either in the baking section or wherever Mexican foods are displayed. If you can't, though, you can try a Latin food store, or buy them on amazon.com.


Traditional Brigadeiro Recipe

1 can of sweetened condensed milk (Nestl├ęs "La Lechera" recommended)
3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted by you.
1 to 1.5 tablespoon(s) of butter

+
chocolate sprinkles or something else to roll them in

How-to:

0. Prepare a lightly greased bowl or deep dish for your mixture to cool down in. Set it aside.
1. Open the can of condensed milk and pour it all into a small/medium saucepan. Add the cocoa and the butter.
2. Use a wooden spoon to stir constantly as you cook it over medium heat. Let the mixture thicken.
3. This is the part that might require practice (but don't worry--failure is still delicious): You know the mixture has cooked enough when, as you stir along the bottom, you can see the bottom of the saucepan. You can see the bottom of the saucepan, or the streak of your spoon, and it takes a little for that little streak to get filled in. That's it. This happens about 10 minutes after you start heating it up. It may take a little practice to get the perfect rolling consistency, but it is actually harder to explain than to do.
4. Immediately after you remove the saucepan from the heat, pour the Brigadeiro mixture into the greased bowl, and let it cool. I suggest you wash the saucepan immediately, or at least fill it with water for an easy clean-up.
5. Prepare a flat plate with the sprinkles. Wash your hands thoroughly, grease them with some butter, and use a regular tablespoon to scoop up a bit of the Brigadeiro. Roll it with your hands, then roll the small ball in the sprinkles, and set on your final tray. Repeat until you have used up all of the mixture. 6. Serve and enjoy.


Brigadeiro Hack - A less sticky version to be used as frosting
One recipe is enough to cover a 9-inch (diam.) cake. And you get a tiny little bit left over.


1 can (14 oz.) of sweetened condensed milk (Nestl├ęs "La Lechera" recommended)
3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 to 1.5 tablespoon(s) of butter
1 can (7.6 oz) of table cream  (see image below) -- I suspect heavy cream might work too.

Table cream.


How-to:
0. Prepare a delicious cake. It can be any cake, my only suggestion is that you pick one that is not too sweet.
1. Open the can of condensed milk and pour it all into a small/medium saucepan. Add the cocoa and the butter.
2. Use a wooden spoon to stir constantly as you cook it over medium heat. Let the mixture thicken.
3. Cook until it thickens, and you can see the bottom of the pan as you scrape it with your wooden spoon. You do not need to cook it as long as the traditional Brigadeiro (see step 3 in recipe above for more details).
4. Immediately after you remove the saucepan from the heat, pour the Brigadeiro mixture into a bowl, and add the table cream to it. Mix it while hot with an electric mixer or Kitchen Aid robot.
5. Let it cool completely. Fill or cover your cake with it but be careful, because it will drip and melt along the sides. Let it cool some more, use a fridge if necessary. Let your favorite child scrape the leftovers up from the sides.
6. Move it to the final serving plate. Or serve it in a pool of Brigadeiro if you don't have a favorite child. Use a sharp knife to cut through the cake.

Venn Cake part covered in Brigadeiro and sprinkles.


These recipes may look a little complicated, but they are actually really simple. I just wrote a very detailed description because a lot of people have never seen other people making this before. But, once you get it, the only "hard" part is to remember the exact measurements of the three ingredients. Apparently, you can make Brigadeiro with 2 spoons of butter and 2 spoons of cocoa, so that's easier to remember. Some people add milk. Some figured out a way to do it in the microwave. Either way, I'm glad to share my favorite birthday treat with everyone. And remember–this is not chocolate, it's Brigadeiro. After you master it, you can use it for all sorts of treats. Enjoy.

Marshmallow "demons" with Brigadeiro.


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Appendix 1a: Brigadeiro and Brigadeiro Hack
Complement to: RQ: What's the difference between Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory?
First Brigadeiro image in post by: flickr user Mayra (Maych) under the cc-by-sa-2.0 license

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