One of the great things about travel is tasting foods you’ve never tried before. On a trip to Brazil in April, a group of us went out for dinner at Braz Pizzaria, a popular upscale pizza chain. Dessert – in honour of our friend’s birthday – was a chocolate confection called brigadeiro.
The version we had at Braz, in Rio de Janeiro, reminded me of sweet chocolate pudding, but more semi-solid in consistency. The one I made at home gelled even more, and was basically caramel-like in texture.
Brigadeiros are little chocolate balls made with cocoa, sweetened condensed milk and butter. The mixture is chilled, then rolled in chocolate sprinkles. In Brazil, the dessert is often served at parties and for birthdays.
I confess that my favourite part of the video was hearing the Portuguese-accented pronunciation of “brigadeiro.”
As a rule, I don’t use sweetened condensed milk. It’s not ideal if you’re lactose-intolerant like I am, not to mention that it has 22 grams of sugar in 2 tablespoons. Yikes!
But I made an exception for a birthday this week, and also because I wanted to recreate – at least for myself – the relaxed, vacation feeling I had in Rio, with its endless beaches, mountains and greenery.
I was delighted to find sweetened condensed soy milk in a Rio grocery store. That would eliminate the lactose problem, although probably not the excessive sweetness – but I didn’t buy it, and it doesn’t seem to be available in Toronto.
The recipe was easy to make, but it takes time – and a lot of stirring – for the mixture to reach the right consistency.
Brigadeiro is noteworthy for its history as well as its flavour and popularity – it’s named for a former presidential candidate, a Brazilian air force brigadier. Here’s one source that offers more information.