Brazil meets USA, big time! A traditional Brazilian delicacy dresses up in American colors for one of the biggest holidays celebrated here, Independence Day. We were invited for dinner and fireworks over at a friend’s home, and on a last-minute move, I prepared these babies to take with us. They are a departure of the classic Brazilian brigadeiros, made with cocoa powder. In this case, I flavored them with a touch of coconut extract, but probably should have added more than I did, the flavor was barely noticeable.
2 (14-oz) cans sweetened condensed milk 1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract) food coloring (Red and Blue) red/white/blue sprinkles (optional)
white chocolate ganache to drizzle (optional)
Combine sweetened condensed milk with unsalted butter in a wide, no stick pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth.
Mixture is ready when it thickens and starts to peel away or show the bottom of the pan when you scrape it with your wood spoon (about 10-15 minutes). The fudge mixture should be thick enough to reveal the bottom of the pan for a couple of seconds before the mixture levels out again.
When the fudge mixture is ready, remove from the stove top and stir in the vanilla or coconut extract. Next, spread 1/3 of the mixture in the center of a half-sheet pan coated with a little butter so that it won’t stick.
Place another 1/3 of the mixture in a bowl and stir in blue food coloring. Place the remaining 1/3 of the fudge mixture in another bowl and stir in red food coloring. Transfer both the blue and red mixtures to the greased baking sheet, spreading them around side by side. Allow to cool completely.
Using a tablespoon as measurement, scoop out one spoon of the white/red/blue mixture (starting from the center to the edge of the plate) and with greased hands, roll out into balls. Place each little ball into a small paper liner and decorate the way you want. They can be kept in the fridge until serving time.
Comments: If you’ve never made traditional brigadeiros, or worse yet – have not even heard about them, please read my old blog post to fix this major gap in your culinary knowledge. It’s important. It was really fun to make these, I advise you to use two cans of condensed milk, so that you have enough to play with. With this amount, I made 26 brigadeiros. They are rich and sweet, so one or two is all you’ll need. But they bring me so many nice memories of my home country, I usually have a bit of a hard time stopping at two. So I accept my weakness, and move on. And jog on. Weight lift on. Kickbox on… you get the picture… damage control.
You can definitely use different colors to celebrate your favorite team, your school, your mood. Halloween Black and Orange brigadeiros might be the rage this year (wink, wink).
I grew up enjoying brigadeiros, probably the most popular food item in Brazilian birthdays and wedding celebrations. They are pretty much mandatory in such occasions. Then, last month we were at my niece Raquel’s home and when it was time for dessert she marched into the dining room with a humongous batch of brigadeiros sent by one of my cousins who could not join us that day. Brigadeiros, home-made with love! Most were the normal, chocolate type, but some were pretty wild, with a bright neon-pink color. “What are these?” The answer puzzled me: “These arebicho de pé.” A literal translation produces something definitely unappetizing. Bicho de pé isa type of flea-like creature that lives in tropical swamps. Walking barefoot in those places carries a high risk of having those creatures set territory in the delicate flesh between your toes. They happen to look a lot like strawberry seeds, therefore the name. With this explanation, I just proved to you that Brazilians have a twisted sense of humor… At any rate, I rather go with “strawberry brigadeiros.” They are addictive. It’s hard for me to decide if they are better than the traditional ones, but… they put up a decent fight for first prize. Easy to make and even easier to wolf down. You’ve been warned!
STRAWBERRY BRIGADEIROS (from the Bewitching Kitchen)
makes about 35 brigadeiros
2 cans of sweetened, condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 package of strawberry gelatin
1 tablespoon of strawberry liquor (optional)
pink granulated sugar, or other coating of your choice
Add the condensed milk and butter to a saucepan, preferably non-stick. Cook over medium-low heat until the butter melts. Add the strawberry gelatin and the strawberry liquor, if using.
Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to release from the bottom of the pan. Keep it in low to medium-low heat, and stir often so that it doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pan. When it is thick, remove from heat and dump it over a half-sheet pan to cool faster. You can also simply transfer to a bowl and stick it in the fridge.
Pour about half a cup of granulated sugar on a small bowl. Reserve. When the brigadeiro mixture is cool, form little balls with a teaspoon, and roll on the palm of your hand. If you wet your hands with cold water it is easier to roll, and also helps the granulated sugar to adhere. Roll each ball on granulated sugar, and place in little paper cups.
Set the brigadeiros on a platter, and…
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: Wanna try to guess how to say Bicho de Pe’? Hint: the “CH” in Portuguese has a sound of “SH.” (try it then click on the sound file below to see how well you did)
Bicho de pé is actually a registered trademark for these adorable candies. They were first made in a patisserie called “Amor aos Pedaços” (Love by the Slice) that opened in São Paulo back in 1982. The person behind the store, Ivani Calarezi, made beautiful gourmet cakes and pies, and her customers could choose one, grab a slice (or several), and go. It was a huge hit. Today Amor aos Pedaços is a chain with 50 stores all over the country. From what I’m told, the quality is not compromised. Apparently Bicho de Pé was available since its opening, so it’s a bit surprising that I had never seen one until now. Better late than never! I got the recipe from my cousin Yvone and made it right away after coming back home. A Halloween party was the perfect occasion… Everyone loved them!
They are a little tangy, a little sweet, plenty delicious… You can use different gelatin flavors, raspberry, blueberry, to have a slightly different color and taste. You can coat with chocolate sprinkles or make a mixed batch with different coatings, whatever you decide to do, I know these will be a huge success. Kids will go crazy for them, adults will try to act with restraint. HA! Wish them luck with that… Everyone turns into a kid around a batch of brigadeiros…
We freeze well too! Make a big batch, stick us in the freezer,
and we’ll be ready to party whenever you are…