Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Spoon Brigadeiros - Brigadeiros de Colher

If you ask my kids what treat they most enjoyed to eat during our vacation in Rio de Janeiro, they will not hesitate to tell you: brigadeiros. To be more precise: what they call "brigadeiro pudding," the one served in a cup.

The traditional Brazilian birthday party staple is now found in many shapes, and is sold everywhere: from little caf├ęs to gourmet restaurants and even in a store that sells just brigadeiros in lots of flavors. The latest trend is to serve brigadeiros in a cup, and you can find them with different chocolate sprinkles and flavors.

I read many versions of its origin, and found this to be a sort of good one, found in Wilkipedia: Brigadeiros were named after Brigadeiro (Brigadier) Eduardo Gomes, who ran for Brazilian presidential elections in 1945 and 1950. The sweet was made for the candidate's fundraising parties, and became very popular and was nicknamed after him. But few people might know about this. Maybe Brigadeiro — who never got elected and was present in many chapters of the politics of the military era — would be surprised about his unknown popularity nowadays.

But why is brigadeiro so popular? The fudge-like texture is always there, sometimes silkier, sometimes a bit chewy, but always very sweet and melting in the mouth. It made me remember when I first posted about brigadeiros here, covering them with grated Belgium chocolate. At a birthday party last Friday, grown-ups and kids could not resist to ask to take some brigadeiros home, as an improvised goody bag from the party and a sweet goodbye to our wonderful days in Rio.

Spoon Brigadeiros 

This recipe is very basic, but the main difference is the time for the reduction of the condensed milk with chocolate. The intensity of the chocolate taste can be defined by the type of chocolate used in the mix. Some gourmet versions use grated dark chocolate, added when the mix is already hot. Some people use fresh heavy cream to finish the process, adding more of a smooth texture (and fat) to the mix, but traditionally this is the main recipe, and you can play with it as you like.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or if using chocolate powder, increase to about 4 or 5 tablespoons
Chocolate sprinkles, grated chocolate, or even cookie crumbles to cover the cups ( you can play a lot with that, like with cupcake toppings)

Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pan over low to medium heat, then add condensed milk and chocolate. Use a wooden spoon to stir constantly. When mix is looking even and smooth and not yet sticking out of the pan, remove from the heat — that would be around 9 minutes on the stove. Let the mix cool down a little bit, then spoon into mini cups and cover with your favorite topping.

To achieve a firmer texture and roll them, cook the mixture for a few more minutes until it starts to stick from bottom of pan. Let cool, then roll into balls.

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