There are many reasons why I feel lucky to have studied Portuguese at college. One of the most important ones was learning more about Brazilian culture and, in particular, Brazilian food! If there's one thing that's popular in Brazil, it's dessert. They love sugar and aren't afraid to show it. (They also brush their teeth a lot).
Brigadeiros are Brazilian chocolate truffles and they are ridiculously easy to make. I've read stories online of Brazilian children making them while home alone and it's not hard to imagine them successfully doing so. I plan to keep cans of condensed milk and cocoa powder in my dorm room to whip up some batches. They are chocolatey and gooey. They melt in your mouth. They are heavenly.
Recipe for Brigadeiros (makes 30-35 pieces)
3 tbsp cocoa powder (best quality you can get)
1 14 oz can condensed milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Sprinkles, powdered sugar or crushed nuts of choice for coating
(Don't be intimidated by how long this list is; I've just made it really detailed to ensure your brigadeiros are perfect.)
1. In a medium sauce pan, let one tablespoon of unsalted butter melt under medium heat.
2. Mix condensed milk and cocoa powder in a separate bowl until smooth. (Tip: to prevent the cocoa powder from clumping together, stir some water into the powder in a separate container to make a chocolate paste before mixing it into condensed milk).
3. Pour your mixture of condensed milk and cocoa into sauce pan, keep it under medium heat to prevent burning.
4. Stir mixture constantly for 15-20 minutes with a wooden or plastic utensil, ensuring that it doesn't stick and burn to the pan.
5. The only tricky part of this recipe is knowing when to stop stirring the mixture over the stove. If removed from heat too early, the mixture won't be formed into balls and if overdone, the mixture will make balls that are too chewy. You'll know it's ready when you scrape the pan and the mixture separates enough to show the pan and very slowly joins together.
Image from tablespoon
Another test is taking some of the mixture onto your spoon and watching how quickly it falls off the spoon. It should slowly drip off the spoon. A final, conclusive test that signals your brigadeiro mixture is done is tilting the saucepan and noticing that the mixture has formed a lump that peels off the bottom of the pan.
If you do under cook it, you can put it in shot glasses and eat it with a spoon, and if you over cook it, you can eat it like chewy chocolate candy. It is highly edible either way. (Warning: an extremely over cooked mixture will be harder to salvage).
6. Once the mixture is done, spread it onto a greased plate. If cooked well, tilting the plate will not cause the mixture to shift. Refrigerate 20 minutes to one hour until firm.
7. Once firm, shape the mixture into balls (half to two-thirds tablespoon of it for each ball, amount used varies by size). Be sure to grease your hands with butter or oil before rolling the brigadeiro, or the mixture will stick to your hands.
8. Dip each brigadeiro in coating of choice (sprinkles, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, crushed nuts, etc.). (Tip: for prettier presentation, put brigadeiros in mini cupcake baking cups).
9. Serve right away or store in an air-tight container for later!