by Heather Harris Brady

When I’m in a pinch and need some hot fudge ASAP (hey, these things happen) I often melt some chocolate into sweetened condensed milk, add a bit of butter and vanilla and call it good. A few weeks ago I came across an article on these candies, and found that if I kept cooking this mixture I’d end up with brigadeiros – a favorite Brazilian candy!

While sources seem to disagree on the candy’s origin, here’s the version from Celebrate Brazil:

Brigadeiros were first made by the wife of Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, of the Brazilian Air Force. Famous for helping end a coup by the communists on Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s, he later ran for the 1946 presidency and his wife created brigadeiros as a treat for campaign fundraising events.

The legend has it that people asked if others had tried the “Brigadeiro’s’ candy” and the name stuck. It was a simple candy made with only three ingredients during a time when other food items were in short supply because of the war. Also, Nestle was introducing chocolate powder and condensed milk during this time.

And there you have it! I used low-fat condensed milk and they turned out fine. These candies are super easy (gluten free!), you could booze them up with some rum or brandy, and roll them in whatever coating strikes your fancy. If you’re looking for a unique handmade signature treat for the holidays, look no further!

Brigadeiros, Makes about 18 1″ candies

  • Two cans of low-fat sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder (I used a mixture of Ghiradelli and Hershey’s Special Dark.)
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 T. vanilla (or other flavoring of your choice)
  • Ground nuts, sprinkles, cake or cookie crumbs for the coating

Combine the first three ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.


The cocoa will turn into little lumps and it will look like a disaster at first, but that’s okay! Keep stirring, and it will start to boil.


The lumps will dissolve and it will smell amazing. After about 10-15 minutes it should be reduced by half and thicken up to where your strokes leave open areas in the mixture for a few seconds – like chocolate lava.


Stir in the vanilla or other flavoring and pour it into a shallow metal pan to cool.


When it is cold and scoopable, get your work area set up with a bowl of coating crumbs. Roll the candy into 1″ balls. Then roll them in the crumbs.


I put them into these little gold petit four cups to keep them neat.


What do they look like inside? I’m glad you asked!


I think they are best described as the thickest hot fudge sauce you can imagine – smooth and sauve.


Also, cute! These will keep at room temp for two days, or a week in the fridge.

Two years ago: Candy Cane Bites
One year ago: Salted Caramel Pepitas


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