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What is Brigadeiro?
Blog / Confectionary / What is Brigadeiro?

What is Brigadeiro?

Brigadeiro, a beloved Brazilian treat, stands as a hallmark of the country's rich culinary tradition, weaving together the simplicity of ingredients with the joy of shared moments.

Originating in the 1940s, brigadeiro has transcended its humble beginnings to become a national treasure, savoured across generations and occasions.

Whether served at celebrations, family gatherings, or as a treat to brighten an ordinary day, brigadeiro is more than just a sweet; it's a symbol of communal happiness and cultural pride.

What is Brigadeiro?

Brigadeiro is a quintessentially Brazilian sweet, a chocolate truffle-like treat that has become synonymous with the country's culinary culture.

Made with a simple yet indulgent mixture of condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter, brigadeiros are cooked until they achieve a dense, fudgy texture, cooled, rolled into small balls, and coated in chocolate sprinkles.

This delectable confection is not only a staple at celebrations and festivities across Brazil, such as birthdays and weddings, but also enjoyed as a beloved everyday treat.

The origins of brigadeiro date back to the 1940s, named after Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, a Brazilian Air Force officer who ran for president.

The sweet was created and sold as a fundraiser for his campaign, quickly gaining nationwide popularity.

Despite the Brigadier not winning the presidency, the treat named after him won the hearts of Brazilians nationwide.

Beyond its delicious taste, the brigadeiro holds a special place in Brazilian hearts for its simplicity and the joy it brings.

It's a sweet that evokes nostalgia and warmth, often made at home with family or friends, turning cooking into an act of communal love and celebration.

Over the years, the classic brigadeiro has inspired numerous variations, incorporating different flavours and coatings.

Still, the traditional chocolate version remains a timeless favourite, embodying the essence of Brazilian hospitality and sweetness.

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What Does Brigadeiro Taste Like?

Brigadeiro offers a rich, creamy texture and a deep chocolate flavour that is both intensely sweet and slightly decadent.

The primary ingredients of condensed milk and cocoa powder combine to create a fudgy, smooth confection that melts delightfully in the mouth.

The sweetness of the condensed milk is balanced by the cocoa's subtle bitterness, resulting in a taste that is not overwhelmingly sweet but rather perfectly balanced.

The outer layer of chocolate sprinkles adds a slight crunch to each bite, providing a textural contrast to the soft, gooey centre.

This combination of textures—crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside—makes eating brigadeiros a unique sensory experience.

Some variations of brigadeiro incorporate different flavours, such as strawberry, coconut, or pistachio, which can alter the taste experience while maintaining the treat's signature creamy texture.

However, the classic chocolate brigadeiro is known for its comforting, indulgent taste that evokes a sense of nostalgia and warmth, making it a beloved treat among those who try it.

How to Make Brigadeiro at Home

Making brigadeiro at home is a delightful and straightforward process that brings a taste of Brazilian sweetness to your kitchen.

Here's a classic brigadeiro recipe that you can easily follow:


  • 1 (397 grams) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing your hands
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, sifted
  • Chocolate sprinkles for coating
  • Small paper cups for serving (optional)


  • Prepare the Ingredients:
    • Grease a large plate or tray with butter and set aside. This is where you'll place the brigadeiros once they're formed.
    • Have your chocolate sprinkles ready in a bowl for rolling the brigadeiros.
  • Cook the Mixture:
    • Combine the condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter in a medium, non-stick saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula. The mixture should be thick enough to show the saucepan's bottom when scraping the spoon across it, which usually takes 10-15 minutes.
  • Cool the Mixture:
    • Remove the pan from the heat once the mixture is thick and shiny. Transfer the brigadeiro mixture to the greased plate or tray and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Form the Brigadeiros:
    • Once cool, grease your hands with a little butter to prevent sticking. Scoop out small amounts of the brigadeiro mixture and roll them into balls about the size of a cherry or a small walnut.
    • Roll each brigadeiro ball in the chocolate sprinkles until well coated, then place them in small paper cups.
  • Serving:
    • Brigadeiros can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. They are best enjoyed at room temperature.


  • Constant Stirring: It's important to stir the mixture constantly while cooking to prevent it from sticking and burning.

  • Cooking Time: The cooking time can vary depending on the stove and pan, so keep an eye on the consistency rather than the clock.

  • Variations: Feel free to experiment with different coatings, such as crushed nuts, powdered sugar, or cocoa powder, to add variety to your brigadeiros.

Making brigadeiro at home not only offers a delicious treat but also an enjoyable experience, capturing the essence of Brazilian confectionery tradition.

A Large Brigadeiro on a Plate

What’s the Difference Between a Chocolate Truffle and a Brigadeiro?

Chocolate truffles and brigadeiros are both sweet treats but differ significantly.

Truffles, originating from France, are made with a creamy ganache center and often coated in cocoa powder or nuts.

They are known for their smooth texture.

Brigadeiros, a Brazilian specialty, are made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter, resulting in a dense, chewy texture, and are typically coated in chocolate sprinkles.

While truffles are celebrated for their luxurious creaminess, brigadeiros hold cultural significance in Brazil, especially at celebrations.

What is the History of Brigadeiros?

The history of brigadeiros dates back to post-World War II Brazil, around the late 1940s.

This period was marked by shortages of imported goods, including fresh milk and sugar, which led to the invention of condensed milk in many Brazilian sweets.

The brigadeiro emerged during this time as a simple yet delicious treat made from the readily available condensed milk, mixed with cocoa powder and butter.

The sweet is named after Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, a Brazilian Air Force officer who ran for president in 1945 and again in 1950.

He was a popular figure, especially among women, despite being a bachelor.

His supporters, looking to raise funds for his campaign, created this chocolate treat to sell at fundraising events.

The sweet quickly became popular nationwide, but Brigadier Gomes did not win the presidency.

Nevertheless, the brigadeiro became a staple of Brazilian confectionery.

The original recipe for brigadeiros was a creative solution to the scarcity of certain ingredients and has remained largely unchanged since its invention.

Its popularity grew because it was easy to make, requiring no baking and only a few simple ingredients.

Over time, the brigadeiro has become a beloved treat at Brazilian festivities, especially children's birthday parties, and is now considered a national icon.

In recent years, the brigadeiro has gained international recognition and has been embraced by other cultures, leading to the creation of gourmet versions that include a variety of flavours and coatings beyond the traditional chocolate sprinkles.

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Some Notes From an Expert Chocolatier

The range of chocolate variations available today pleases me and is a great source of inspiration.

From the rich, dark varieties that boast intense cocoa flavours to the creamy, smooth profiles of milk chocolate and the delicate sweetness of white chocolate, each type offers a unique canvas for creativity.

The joy in working with such diversity lies in the flavours themselves and the opportunity to explore and combine them with various ingredients, like nuts, fruits, spices, and even more exotic elements, like edible flowers or rare salts.

One aspect of my work that I find particularly rewarding is experimenting with these variations to create new, unexpected taste experiences.

For example, introducing a subtly spicy ingredient, such as the Brazilian brigadeiro, into a chocolate confection can transform the familiar into something new and exciting.

The brigadeiro, with its rich, fudgy texture and sweet, milky flavour, when encased in a shell of fine dark chocolate, creates a comforting and sophisticated contrast.

This exploration of flavours and textures is a testament to the versatility of chocolate as a medium for culinary art.

Final Notes On Brigadeiros

The brigadeiro is much more than just a confection; it is a beloved symbol of Brazilian culture, embodying the nation's passion for life, love for celebration, and flair for culinary creativity.

Originating in the mid-20th century as a simple treat made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter, the brigadeiro has transcended its humble beginnings to become a national icon cherished at gatherings, and parties and as a daily delight across Brazil.

The story of the brigadeiro, intertwined with the history of Brazil itself, reflects a tradition of innovation and resourcefulness, demonstrating how a straightforward recipe can evolve into a culinary staple.

Its popularity has spread beyond Brazil's borders, captivating sweet lovers worldwide with its unique texture and perfect balance of sweet and chocolatey flavours.