Brigadeiro – Brazilian Birthday Chocolates

As today’s Thanksgiving festivities come to a close I realize there is no rest for the cooks. Holidays revolve around food and I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without turkey and all the trimmings.

In fact, food is so intertwined with culture it’s easy to forget that most countries don’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all but have their own delicious customs.

So, in honor of all the tasty traditions we may miss out on here in Canada, Digitally Delicious is going to dive into ethnic cuisine for the next few days and share some favourite food finds from other cultures.

A few months back a friend from Brazil surprised me with some chocolates for my birthday called ‘Brigadeiro’. They taste a little bit like fudge and a little bit like chocolate truffles. She explained that they are a popular birthday tradition in Brazil. Women get together to make hundreds of them for parties and children loiter around the tables in hopes of sneaking a few when no one is looking. The recipe is also used as an icing for cakes (they just reduce the cooking time so the mixture is spreadable).

Brigadeiro has a fascinating history (albeit a rather recent one). It was invented in the 1940’s while Brazil was at war. There was a shortage of imported sweets and Nestle had just introduced cocoa powder to the country. The recipe was then named after a local hero, Eduardo Gomes (an Air Force brigadier) who squashed an attempted communist coup in Rio. All these factors combined to give Brazil a delicious national treat that has become a holiday staple.

Brigadeiro was named after Eduardo Gomes (centre)

Brigadeiro was named after Eduardo Gomes (centre)

The chocolates were so good my cousins and I decided to adopt the tradition and to make a batch for my aunt’s birthday. The recipe is simple – all you need is butter, condensed milk, cocoa powder, and sprinkles. Cooking the Brigadeiro was quick and easy. Rolling it into little balls and covering it with sprinkles was kind of hard. I discovered that like most things in life timing is key. If you don’t cook the chocolate mixture long enough it is tough to roll, but if you cook it too long it is tough to chew. That said, practice makes perfect and I suspect I’ll only improve with each passing birthday…

Here’s a video showing exactly how they’re made.


3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon butter

1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk

Sprinkles of choice (we used candy sprinkles, shredded cocounut, and cocoa powder).


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cocoa, butter, and condensed milk.

Cook until thickened (approx. 10 minutes) stirring constantly. When it is finished the mixture should start to pull away from the sides of the pan and you will be able to see the bottom of the pan while you stir.

Remove from heat and pour mixture onto a greased plate or bowl. Place in the freezer to cool the mixture down and make it easier to handle.

Roll into small balls (greasing your hands with butter first will make this easier).

Dip the balls into bowls full of sprinkles.



Filed under Cultural Cuisine

2 responses to “Brigadeiro – Brazilian Birthday Chocolates

  1. Pingback: It’s Friday - Finally « Digitally Delicious

  2. Heey thank u for the info. this helped me on my proj.(:*

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