Brazil’s taste-tempting Brigadeiro

A colorful spring-like selection of Brazilian Brigadeiros decorate a white-laced desert platter.
Brazil's festive brigadeiros make any occasion special. Add this confectionary dispaly to your holiday table. (Photo: by brunorn17 from Pixabay)

Get to know Brazil’s number one party treat and the amazing story behind its name.

Brazil’s taste-tempting brigadeiro is perfect for Holidays, Halloween, or any occasion. Direct from your kitchen or your favorite Brazilian bakery.

by Scott Adams

For many of us, our introduction to Brazil came from a new favorite song. Maybe a breezy Bossa Nova, a Brazilian pop hit, or Brazilian jazz. Then came a visit to a Brazilian steakhouse and about 15 minutes later, that first caipirinha.

And if any of these three things catch on, this social cycle gets repeated in the jumbled order that the day-to-day brings.

Sooner or later, curiosity sets in. Back in Connect Brazil’s early days, this meant booking a flight to Rio. But today, curiosity can be kindled by browsing your daily newsfeed.

That could be how you found your way to this story about Brazil’s taste-tempting brigadeiros.

Meet Brazil’s taste-tempting brigadeiro

Rich and chocolatey, Brazil’s brigadeiros are closely related, tropical cousins to truffles, fudge balls, and bonbons. It’s a candy with a difference, but it is also Brazil’s number one dessert. I’ve seen Brazilians leave a party early when the brigadeiros ran out.

With the Holiday Season fast approaching, this seems like the perfect time for an introduction. You’ll discover that they are almost as easy to make as they are to buy.

You’ll learn the story behind its curious name and how to spin your personal experience into a bevy of brigadeiro bodaciousness.

One caveat? This is one Halloween treat that’s so good, that you just may want to keep it for yourself.

You’ve seen pictures. The traditional brigadeiro is a rounded chocolate confection, with a semi-glossy surface. It’s usually covered with chocolate sprinkles. About the size of a golf ball, plates of these are set out at Brazilian parties. Decorum states that guests should abstain until after the cake is served. So, brigadeiros played a decorative role until that time.

What makes brigadeiros different? With only three ingredients needed (plus sprinkles!) the basics are easy to master. In a word, it comes down to quality. Specifically, the quality of the cocoa powder used in the mixture.

You’ll find a recipe for traditional brigadeiros below.

Brigadeiro basics and beyond

The basics also make Brazil’s taste-tempting brigadeiro the perfect confection for improvisation. Experiment in the kitchen or from the Brazilian bakery of your choice. Perhaps white chocolate, coconut, caipirinha, or passion fruit, the variety of flavors is as endless as your imagination.

Today’s brigadeiro has evolved into delicious cakes and cupcakes, brownies, and cookies. Puddings, too.

Browse Connect Brazil’s Lifestyle Directory for our list of featured Brazilian bakeries, coast to coast.

What’s in a name?

If you know a little Portuguese, then you might pick up on this confection’s curious name.

Brigadeiro means ‘Brigadier’ in English, a military rank. And it turns out that these words have a shared source: A Brazilian Brigadeiro named Eduardo Gomez. Gomez was a high-profile Military Commander. His engaging personality and good looks led him to run for President of Brazil, twice.

It’s said that a popular confectioner in Rio de Janeiro created the doce do brigadeiro to help promote Gomez’s first Presidential bid.

The idea caught on quickly. Brazil’s 1946 election was the first national ballot where women cast their vote. Their enthusiasm for this milestone moment included selling countless brigadeiros for the candidate.

Brigadeiros became so desirable that even Gomez’s detractors could not resist putting their Cruzeiros on the table for a box of these Brazilian treats.

Even though Gomez lost both presidential campaigns, he will be forever remembered for the candy created in his honor.

Plan a Brigadeiro party with your friends

Whether it’s for holiday get-togethers or special occasions, a Brigadeiro party always leads to fun. They’re perfect for Halloween as a special treat for ‘best costumes’ or those too-cute OMG trick-or-treaters.

So, gather up your friends and these ingredients, then get busy with Brazil’s taste-tempting brigadeiro, homemade!

This recipe comes from Sally’s Bewitching Kitchen, and we could not be more grateful!

Brigadeiros Recipe (Traditional)


A single can of condensed milk (for instance, Carnation brand)
1 + 1/2 T butter
1 + 1/2 T cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of cinnamon
chocolate sprinkles (enough for coating all brigadeiros)


Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably enamel-coated, but not absolutely necessary). Cook in medium heat until the butter melts, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring, until the mixture starts to pull out of the bottom of the pan. It should take between 10 and 17 minutes. If the mixture starts to boil too furiously, reduce the heat or remove the pan from the burner for a minute or so, always stirring.

Allow it to cool until you can handle it. It is OK to put it in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

Place the chocolate sprinkles in a shallow dish. Have a small dish with cold water to dip your fingers and moisten the palms of your hands. Using a teaspoon, grab portions of the cool chocolate mixture and roll into balls. Immediately roll them in chocolate sprinkles and place them in a small paper cup.

Makes 24 brigadeiros.   Scale up the recipe for large gatherings.

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