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How to make Brigadeiros

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AUGUST 08, 2023

Summer is unfortunately coming to an end.

So, to wrap it up, I have a quick and easy recipe for a classic Brazilian dessert!

This recipe produces a batch of Brigadeiros, which roughly translates to Brigadiers. Brigadeiros are a rich, fudge-like dessert that earned its spot as the national truffle of Brazil. The origin of this dessert can be traced back to the post-war era when Brigadier general Eduardo Gomes was running for president. Brazilian women created this recipe and sold batches of these treats to raise campaign funds. That is how the name Brigadeiros came to be.

So, let’s get right into it. 


  • 1 tablespoon of butter. Salted or unsalted; it doesn’t really matter.
  • 1 can (14 oz/397g) of sweetened condensed milk. This is the most important ingredient.
  • ¼ cup (30g) of cocoa powder.

Literally, that’s it. The cooking steps? Easy.


  1. Pour in the butter, condensed milk and cocoa powder into a saucepan.
  2. Stir constantly over low heat until the mixture thickens (takes about 6-8 minutes)

It’s literally that simple. It’s so simple, children can do it. I made this as often as my mom bought condensed milk at the grocery store.

The only catch is to know exactly when the mixture thickens enough. It’s not a narrow window but you don’t want to overcook it. However, there’s a great trick for this:

Tilt the pan to the side. If the mixture plops down and you can clearly and easily see the bottom of the pan, you’re good. Otherwise, keep stirring. Think thicker than pudding but thinner than molasses. Also, you can watch a recipe video on YouTube to get the idea.

Now, once you have that, there are two preparation steps:

  1. Pour the mixture onto a plate and cover it with Saran Wrap. 
  2. Refrigerate or freeze until it hardens. This should take one or two hours, but there’s no risk of over-hardening.

That’s it, you have a nice serving of Brigadeiros!

However, you’re probably wondering how to make the little truffle-looking balls in the picture. Well, this is the fun part and why Brazilian kids love this treat, the decoration presentation steps:

  1. Have the candy cup dessert wrappers spread out.
  2. Have a plate with the sprinkles of your choice poured in.
  3. Grease your hands with butter.
  4. Scoop up a fingerful of Brigadeiro and shape it into a sphere.
  5. Roll the sphere over the sprinkles, then place it into the wrapper.

It’s that simple. And fun! Especially if you get someone to help you out, it’s like an assembly line but for homemade chocolate.

The fun part about Brigadeiros is the versatility.

The easiest change to make is with the choice of sprinkles. There is a wide variety of ‘toppings’ you can use for sprinkles. You can go with traditional sprinkles that come in all shapes and colors or you can go for something a little more gourmet, like desiccated coconut or crushed pistachios.

The other tweakable aspect of this dessert is the flavoring. There are plenty of variations such as vanilla or strawberry Brigadeiros. Just switch out the cocoa powder for vanilla powder or strawberry powder, respectively. However, if you take out cocoa powder for something that crystallizes easily, compensate with a little heavy cream.

The Brigadeiro recipe is somewhere between art and science. It’s like brewing or winemaking: The fundamentals are the same, but every establishment tweaks it a little to their own liking. Play around with it, and roll some chocolate balls this summer!

Contact Rafael Arbex-Murut at 


AUGUST 08, 2023