Brigadeiros. These little chocolate fudge truffles are quite possibly Brazil's most well-known party treats. It's part of Brazilian DNA.
However, it wasn't always so!
In 1946, Brazil was holding its presidential elections, and the first national election where women could vote. One of the presidential candidates was Air Force Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, who was single and easy on the eyes. He quickly built up a devout following of women voters who decided to try and promote his campaign by organizing parties to raise campaign funds.
Unlike the other campaigns which sold traditional candidate merchandise, these women decided to make a sweet that could be sold at these meetings or handed out at rallies. However, because it was the year after World War II ended, Brazil was still subject to a number of rations, including for fresh milk and sugar. Gomes’ supporters instead crafted a sweet from condensed milk, butter, and chocolate powder, which were all in plentiful supply.
Their initiative was so important to his campaign that he changed his campaign slogan to be “vote no brigadeiro, que é bonito e solteiro” (vote for the brigadier, who’s single and handsome). Unfortunately he didn’t win the Presidency, but the famous chocolates that bore his name soon became an integral part of Brazil’s sweet history!
The brigadeiro now makes up a big part of Brazilian culture and is considered a national icon. They’re found throughout Brazil, especially at festive events like birthdays and weddings. They’re synonymous with being happy and having fun!
These days the basic brigadeiro is made up of 3 simple ingredients: condensed milk, butter, and cocoa powder. The mixture is then rolled into a small ball, covered in sprinkles or another topping, and placed in a small cupcake liner. The brigadeiro mixture can also be poured into a container and eaten with a spoon (known as brigadeiro de colher - or spoon brigadeiro)!
And while chocolate and coconut remain the staple flavors, these days you can find a wide range of gourmet artisan brigadeiros with ingredients like peanuts, guava, mint, coffee, strawberries, cheese, and pistachios (just to name a few!).
How to pronounce brigadeiros? Brigadeiros = bri-ga-DAY-ros
Want to make your own brigadeiros? Why not try our tried and tested recipe for perfect brigadeiros
Want to store your brigadeiros?