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|Place of origin||Brazil|
|Serving temperature||Cold, chilled, warm/hot when consumed with a spoon|
|Main ingredients||Sweetened condensed milk, butter and chocolate|
|Cookbook: Brigadeiro Media: Brigadeiro|
The brigadeiro (Portuguese for Brigadier); is a common Brazilian delicacy, created in 1940. It is common throughout the entire country, as well as in Portugal, and is present in practically all the major Brazilian celebrations. Other types of Brazilian delicacies are cajuzinho and beijinho.
The brigadeiro is made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter and chocolate sprinkles to cover the outside layer. It can be cooked in the oven or the microwave, in the form of individual little balls. It can also be eaten straight from the pot once it is done cooking.
The information regarding when and where the brigadeiro was invented is uncertain. As far as the creators of this treat, it is also uncertain of the nationality of the individuals.
The history of the origin of the name is accompanied by some controversies. One version explains that the dessert was invented in Brazil after World War II (1939–1945). During that time, it was difficult to find fresh milk and sugar to make any kind of desserts. Because of this, it was discovered that if one mixed condensed milk and chocolate, the result would be a delicious sweet treat.
Another story tells of how the brigadeiro was a tribute to the brigadier Eduardo Gomes, a liberal, who was said to be very handsome during his time. In the 1945 elections, Gomes was one of the candidates running in the hopes of becoming the next president of the Republic for UDN. His slogan was: “Vote for the most handsome and single brigadier.” The candidate conquered the hearts of many fans in Pacaembu, a neighborhood in São Paulo, who organized parties to promote his candidacy. The dessert was said to have been created during the candidate’s first presidential campaign after Getulio Vargas. The brigadeiro, which was initially made with milk, eggs, butter, sugar and chocolate, became so popular that it became a new way to fundraise for Gomes's campaign.
There are other similar versions to the previous stories of where the name of this dessert originates from: women from Rio de Janeiro, promoting Gomes’s campaign, made and sold it in order to help fund the presidential campaign. Others said that Heloisa Nabucco, who came from a traditional Rio de Janeiro family, supported the brigadier, created a different version of the original treat, and named it after her favorite political candidate, Eduardo Gomes. The various candidature celebrations were disputed by a major portion of the population. People would later begin to call friends and family to come eat the “treat of the Brigadier.” With time, the dessert ended up being called brigadeiro which would later be made with condensed milk. Regardless of the support that Gomes received, he lost the election to General Eurico Gaspar Dutra.
As time passed, the brigadeiro was improved with other recipes based on the original, such as the beijinho, casadinho, cajuzinho, etc.
In other countries the brigadeiro is known as the “Brazilian truffle.”
The brigadeiro makes up a big part of the Brazilian culture and is said to be a national icon. It is a democratic dessert that many people can enjoy. It can be made in the north or the south, eaten by rich or by poor, men or women, children or adults.
The brigadeiro is present in innumerable occasions: from birthday parties for children to more luxurious parties. It is often more anticipated than the traditional birthday cake. The brigadeiro is offered in more elaborate forms where the preparation includes high quality ingredients, giving it a higher status of a gourmet dessert.
This delicacy comes in many variations such as Brigadeiro Ice creams made with milk chocolate and some chocolate sprinkles, Brigadeiro cakes which consist of a chocolate sponge filled with lots of brigadeiro mixture( condensed milk, chocolate powder and butter) the mixture is also put on top of the cake together with lots of chocolate sprinkles too - very popular at birthday parties and lastly, Brigadeiro Pizza, which unlike the other items mentioned before, it's not as sweet and that is simply because of the savory taste of the pizza dough.
Generally made in Brazilian homes, the brigadeiro can be eaten straight from the pot while one watches TV, which is why it can sometimes be called "spoon brigadeiro". The most common form of this dessert is in small balls covered in chocolate sprinkles and in a small cupcake mold. This dessert is normally served at kids birthday parties and is eaten after the birthday cake. The brigadeiro can also be served in different reunions, especially when friends get together. This dessert can also be served when someone is going through a heartache. The brigadeiro has a sentimental value to all Brazilians. Eating a brigadeiro is said to give people a familiar sensation because it is a way to remember happy times spent with family and friends.
The gourmet brigadeiro has a touch of sophistication. Instead of using grainy substances, one can use pistachio, almonds, hazelnuts, etc. There are over 50 flavors in stores that are called brigadeiro "boutiques". The mixture can vary, but the good quality ingredients, fresh products and elegant presentation are key to making it a gourmet dessert. They can be served in cups, jars, small pots, tubes, spoons and small boxes that resemble small jewelry boxes. The brigadeiro has grown and achieved the status of a gourmet dish.
Since then, several people started to make and advertise this type of dessert, that depending on the version, stopped being a treat to eat at birthdays and became a dessert to eat at home. The brigadeiro is now an elegant treat served at weddings or other special occasions.
In 2011, an article titled “100 Things to Watch in 2011,” published by Americana JWT agency, the brigadeiro came in at number 15 on the list as one of the top desserts that became well known in a short period of time. Later in 2014, the first brigadeiro shop was opened in New York and became very successful.
Other traditional types of brigadeiros exist: the beijinho, the cajuzinho, already mentioned, made with shredded coconut and pieces of cashews. The casadinho is the union of the traditional brigadeiro without chocolate. Moranguinho made with strawberries, olho-de-sogra made with coconut and prunes, etc.
With the gourmet brigadeiros, more sophisticated flavors were invented from the original that only needed powdered chocolate. Some other types include:
- With dry foods: Almonds, pistachio, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts
- With fruits: Strawberries, oranges, lime, passion fruit and coconut
- With alcoholic beverages: Wine, whisky, Baileys and cachaça (famous Brazilian liquor)
- Others: Belgium chocolate, white chocolate, powdered milk, Nutella, Ovaltine, peanut butter and peppers.