By Amy Liu
Distinguished Young Woman of New Jersey for 2014
Oh, the holidays. Based on some meticulous and highly scientific fieldwork, I’ve concluded that December is basically fair game for everything: binging on cookies, overspending at the mall, singing with reckless abandon, squeezing in final hurrahs for all the things that will be strictly and absolutely prohibited in the New Year—let’s just say, the spirit is in the air.
Spending December in the southern hemisphere, with its 80-90 degree weather, is a little strange, to say the least. While I’m still planning to bake cookies and build gingerbread houses (to an extensive holiday playlist, of course), I’m also excited to experience a Brazilian holiday season. Here’s a recipe for one Brazilian treat that’s as incredibly easy to make as it is delicious.
Brigadeiro is a very common Brazilian sweet, and is always served at birthdays. It’s rich, smooth, and chewy, with a bit of a crunch from the sprinkles. The exact origin of the name is unknown, though one popular story attributes the name to Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, a politician and military figure from Rio de Janeiro. Typically made with chocolate powder and covered in chocolate sprinkles, my favorite thing about brigadeiro is its versatility. You can be as creative as you want and, regardless of what you do, you’ll probably end up with something extremely tasty. Other than the condensed milk, which is conveniently pre-measured, all of the ingredients and steps can be “eyeballed.” If you don’t feel like rolling it, you can even eat the brigadeiro straight out of the pan with a spoon. No shame—I’m right there with you.
(cook time: 15 minutes, ready in: 1 hour)
While this is a good starting point, keep in mind that part of the fun of brigadeiro is finding your own perfect recipe! Experiment! My favorite flavors so far are coconut and coffee.
— 1 can of condensed milk (14 ounces or 395 grams)
— 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
— 7 heaping tablespoons chocolate powder like Nesquik or 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, to taste (chocolate powder is sweeter, and you may prefer a combination of both)
— chocolate sprinkles, for rolling (optional)
— Melt the butter or margarine in a medium saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add condensed milk and chocolate/cocoa powder. Cook, stirring constantly so none of the brigadeiro burns, until mixture thickens enough to show pan bottom while stirring and pulls away from pan when tilted (if you lift and invert the spoon, the mixture should hold for an instant before running down), about 10-15 minutes.
— Pour mixture into a dish and let cool. To speed up cooling, place in refrigerator.
— Grease hands and roll the brigadeiro into small balls.
— Roll balls in chocolate sprinkles (they are often then placed in mini baking cups).
— Refrigerate until fully chilled and moderately firm.
— beijinho (no chocolate, shredded coconut, rolled in shredded coconut)
— coffee (with or without chocolate, coffee or coffee powder)
— nuts (in mixture or for rolling)
— crushed cookies or pretzels for rolling
— peanut butter or nutella
— white chocolate
— white chocolate and lime zest
Amy Liu is a college freshman at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey majoring in Chemical Engineering. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, Amy was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Jersey for 2014. Learn more about Amy here!