Fudgy, festively decorated brigadeiros—as common at Brazilian birthdays as cupcakes in the U.S.—are made from little more than cocoa powder, condensed milk and butter, cooked down and cooled, then rolled in candy sprinkles or chopped nuts. The premise is simple: the elegance of truffles, the chewiness of fudge.
Traditionally, the condensed milk is cooked over low heat in a saucepan as cocoa powder and butter are gradually stirred in. Many recipes call for turning up the heat until the mixture boils, caramelizing the sugars in the milk for richer flavor, then cooling and rolling the thickened mixture into tablespoon-size balls.
At Milk Street, we loved the simplicity of these Brazilian bonbons but made adjustments to bolster the flavor and ensure that the candies came out perfectly every time.
We started by cooking the condensed milk and cocoa over a lower heat than usual, letting the mixture progress from a bubbling syrup to a thick, fudgy mass. It grew increasingly firm and developed more and more flavor the longer we stirred and cooked it. A nonstick skillet was essential to allow the mixture to move easily in the pan without sticking or scorching.
We added cinnamon and espresso powder for complexity, the coffee offering a bitter note to balance the sweetness. Rolling the candies in cashews as well as the usual chocolate sprinkles added a crunchy note, using a native Brazilian ingredient to boot. The result was a two-bite candy as soft as caramel but as chocolaty as fudge.