I·ATE Food Term of the Week: Brigadeiros


This week’s I-ATE Food Term will surely please your sweet tooth!

Condensed milk, butter, and cocoa powder are the only ingredients needed to prepare this traditional Brazilian treat, which is as delicious as it is simple.

Brigadeiros are generally shaped in small balls covered in chocolate sprinkles and served in little cupcake liners, perfect to be eaten in one bite. Or if you just can’t wait to taste them, you can always pour the preparation in a bowl right after mixing and eat it with a spoon; the Brazilians call this a brigadeiro de colher, literally a “spoon brigadeiro”.

In the latest years, variations on the original recipe have also become very popular and new flavours and coatings have been proposed: chocolate can be replaced by grated coconut to create a beijinho (“little kiss”), which is usually covered in granulated sugar, or by peanuts and cashew nuts to get a cajuzinho (“little cashew”). The combinations are countless, and you can experiment by adding your favourite ingredients, like strawberries, pistachios, or even coffee!

The Origins of the Brigadeiro: A Story of Women and Propaganda

Brigadeiros allegedly made their first appearance in 1945, right after the end of World War II. At that time Brazil was gearing up for the election of a new president after many years of dictatorship under Getúlio Vargas’ regime. Among the candidates there was Eduardo Gomes, a military brigadier and member of the Air Force running for the União Democrática Nacional, the National Democratic Union, who was particularly appreciated by women, allowed to vote in national elections for the first time that year.

The most devoted amongst his supporters used to organise parties and events to raise funds for his campaign and to provide him with more visibility. Legend has it that it was Heloísa Nabuco de Oliveira, a member of a traditional family from Rio de Janeiro who proposed to sell a new confection of her invention during these events to sway voters by tempting their palate. She had mixed condensed milk, as a substitute for fresh milk and sugar, which were hard to find in the post-war era, with butter, and chocolate to create what she called the doce do brigadeiro, the brigadier’s sweet.

Despite the support, Eduardo Gomes eventually lost the elections, but the dessert bearing his name gained immense popularity and is still today one of all Brazilians’ favourites.

The Recipe for the Original Brigadeiro

If only reading about the origins of this tasty sweets made your mouth water, here is the recipe to prepare them at home.

Ingredients for 20 units:

– 400 g condensed milk

– 30 g unsalted butter

– 30 g cocoa powder

– chocolate sprinkles

Start by combining butter, condensed milk, and cocoa powder in a large pan over medium heat, then start stirring continuously with a spatula. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to thicken and adjust the temperature as necessary to keep it from burning.

When ready, pour everything in a greased plate and let to cool at room temperature or even in the fridge if you are in a hurry.

After chilling, the preparation should be firm enough for you to be able to roll it into small balls after having greased your hands with some butter.

Now you can cover your brigadeiros with some chocolate sprinkles and serve them in small cupcake liners.

E bom apetite!


Galileu. 2018. Brigadeiro: conheça a história política e curiosa do doce brasileiro. [ONLINE]. Available at: https://revistagalileu.globo.com/Sociedade/noticia/2018/09/brigadeiro-conheca-historia-politica-e-curiosa-do-doce-brasileiro.html [Accessed 13/10/2020]

Huffpost Brasil. 2019. Brigadeiro: Como a criação do amado doce brasileiro é marcada pela política. [ONLINE]. Available at https://www.huffpostbrasil.com/entry/origem-do-brigadeiro_br_5d6eb128e4b011080455b80e?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAD7d2KWDAmaihaPOVCCWATNxxhaXpDTkHt3LB279636Pg5NyQG5vRdyxAvZnA6f6ka1IVkkWn5tUdNcTnNN50z5Aw4qDa9FC3SjeHkV3t82hFuT2KtA9HFaKE2BWpPzJ9Zv3G-GS-UULPnxtRe94gloxaI7efUyb-smGzjbsHLtZ  [Accessed 13/10/2020]

Sweet Stone. 2016. A ‘brief’ Brigadeiro History. [ONLINE]. Available at: https://sweetstone.com.au/a-brief-brigadeiro-history [Accessed 14/10/2020]

Tudo Gostoso. Brigadeiro [ONLINE]. Available at : https://www.tudogostoso.com.br/receita/114-brigadeiro.html [Accessed 14/10/2020]

Brazilian Kitchen Abroad. 2019. Brigadeiro Recipe – Brazilian Fudge Balls. [ONLINE]. Available at: https://braziliankitchenabroad.com/brigadeiro/ [Accessed 14/10/2020]

Irene ZanardiWritten by Irene Zanardi, Schuman Trainee at the Euramis Pre-Translation Unit. She holds a Bachelor’s in Intercultural Linguistic Mediation and a Master’s in Specialised Translation and Terminology.