Last year we met Elizabete Delfino, a member of SAC’s Intercambio Language and Culture Exchange and an unbelievable cook. Recently Elizabete gave us a step-by-step tutorial on how to make brigadeiro. This confectionary workshop was photographed by Dustin Kerstein, whose photos are seen here.
Also known as “negrinho,” the brigadeiro was first concocted in 1940s. Legend has it, the name comes from a brigadier in the Brazilian Air Force named Eduardo Gomes. When Gomes was a candidate to Brazil presidency in 1945 — the first year Brazilian women could vote for president — ladies who supported him sold the chocolate sweet at fundraisers.
Elizabete, who hails from Sao Paolo, Brazil, explains, “a party isn’t a party without brigadeiros.” These bite-sized balls are made for children’s parties in Brazil, yet the sweet little numbers also make adults like us say “delicioso!”
Elizabete says she misses the happy and languid pace of life in Brazil, yet says things here are easier here — especially when it comes to cooking. For example, ingredients like shredded coconut are cheap and readily available at local stores such as Pão de Açúcar, Casa de Carnes Solução and Market Basket. Whereas back in Brazil, if a recipe called for coconut, Elizabete would buy a whole coconut, break it, and grate the meat because the prepared version was too expensive.
Brigadeiro requires very few ingredients, yet Elizabete cautions that the key to success with this recipe is patience and lots of stirring. Once you master the brigadeiro basics, consider covering your sweet treats with crushed pretzels (our fave) pistachios or toffee bars — or add cinnamon or a splash of Bailey’s to the mix. The possibilities are endless!
- 1 can condensed milk (Elizabete prefers the brand Moca)
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 4 tablespoons Nesquick or other cocoa powder (locavores and chocolate connoisseurs may substitute Taza chocolate instead)
- 1/4 cup of regular milk
- Chocolate sprinkles or toppings of your choice like crushed pretzels
- For pretty wrappers head to present your treats, head to Kerr Party Decorations in Union Square
- Mix condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder together gradually in a thick pan. Once mixed, stir in regular milk.
- Beginning on high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and continue stirring, simmer for 5 minutes (or until batter is thick enough to hold a line drawn by a spoon).
- Remove from heat; stir in 1 teaspoon butter and allow mixture to cool completely in a greased bowl.
- Once batter has cooled completely and before it starts to melt (may take an hour or so), grease hands and roll into balls roughly one inch in diameter.
- Roll balls in chocolate sprinkles or toppings of your choice.
Chef’s note: Brigadeiros are best once they are slightly hardened — let them stand for a day or two before serving. They will stay fresh for a week or more.