Food & Drink

Learn to make Brazil's bonbon, the brigadeiros

A Bite of Brazil

A plate of brigadeiros. Brigadeiros are a traditional Brazilian dessert that includes sweetened condensed milk, cocoa po
A plate of brigadeiros. Brigadeiros are a traditional Brazilian dessert that includes sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter. (Alexandra Olsen)
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Some of my most vivid childhood memories from growing up in Brazil were made at children’s birthday parties, which were always held in colorful event halls filled with countless balloons, relatives and sweet treats lining the overly-decorated tables.

After an hour or two of putting up with our uncomfortable shoes, my cousins and I would kick them off and run around barefoot as we played with balloons and gorged ourselves on chewy little sweets known as brigadeiros. At family parties, these sweets were always made by my grandmother, who for many years made them to order for all sorts of events and parties in her town. In our family, a birthday, baptism or wedding didn’t feel right without grandma’s brigadeiros.

When my husband and I were planning our wedding for fall 2018, we strongly considered planning the ceremony to take place in Brazil, where my entire extended family, but most importantly my grandparents, would be guaranteed to attend.

When logistical hurdles made this nearly impossible to accomplish, we opted to hold our ceremony and reception in Iowa, where I hoped that my Brazilian family would travel. I knew it was a big ask, days of travel for just one special day during a chilly Iowa fall, but I feared nothing more than to not be surrounded by those I love most in this world.

When my grandparents affirmed they would be in attendance, I was ecstatic. My grandmother assured me brigadeiros would also make an appearance on our dessert table.

My grandparents, and several members of my extended family arrived a week before our wedding and began making brigadeiros right away. In assembly line fashion, they all gathered in my mother’s kitchen and cooked, chilled, rolled and decorated hundreds of brigadeiros of varying flavors and decorations. It was an incredible sight to behold. Multiple generations of my family, all together once more, working hard to make my vision for my special day a reality.

It’s a memory I will never forget, and certainly the best memory I’ll ever have of making and eating brigadeiros.

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In this column I am sharing the traditional chocolate brigadeiro recipe, but if you’d like to learn about and taste other flavors, consider checking out the class I’ll be teaching at NewBo City Market on March 27. Find out more on the NewBo City Market Facebook page.

You can follow Alexandra on Instagram, @FeedMeIowa, for more recipes and restaurant recommendations.

Recipe

Brigadeiros

1 can of sweetened-condensed milk

4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1 tablespoon of butter + more for rolling

Chocolate sprinkles

Other materials:

Miniature baking cups

In a small saucepan, add sweetened-condensed milk, cocoa powder and unmelted butter.

Set stove on a medium-low heat and stir all ingredients swiftly to get rid of any clumps and melt butter.

Once butter is melted, continue to stir until the mixture is smooth but begins to solidify slightly, about 12 minutes or until the mixture forms ribbons when lifted with a spoon.

Pour the mixture out on a plate and allow it to cool in the fridge overnight.

Once it is fully cooled, prepare to roll into truffle-sized balls.

Spread chocolate sprinkles on a plate and coat hands in butter.

Use a spoon to evenly measure each brigadeiro. Roll into a ball then roll in chocolate sprinkles. Once finished, place it in a miniature baking cup.

Repeat until all the mixture is used, enjoy!

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