To the untrained eye, a brigadeiro can easily be mistaken for a chocolate truffle — or even a healthy bliss ball. But chocolatier Barbara Cardoso says it's far from either.
"If you've never tried it and you get a box of them, you'd think it's a bliss ball. But then when you have one, you'll realise this is definitely not a bliss ball!" Cardosa tells SBS Food.
She describes the original milk chocolate flavoured "stone", which has long been a staple at Brazil celebrations, as having a texture that is somewhere inbetween fudge and ganache with a slight chew.
"Ganache is a bit softer, whereas a fudge is a bit harder, and a brigadeiro is a bit of both," she says.
"Ganache is a bit softer, whereas a fudge is a bit harder, and a brigadeiro is a bit of both."
As the owner of Sweet Stone, a chocolaterie based in Sydney's northern beaches of Manly that specialises in making brigadeiro, Cardoso recalls growing up in Goiania in central Brazil and eating them by the dozen at birthday parties when she was a child.
"When I was little, I grew up eating them at kids' parties," she says. "You ask any Brazilian and they will know about it. It's something that's just ingrained in our culture."
Brigadeiros are usually made using condensed milk, butter, and Nesquik chocolate powder, before being individually hand-rolled and covered in milk chocolate sprinkles.
Cardoso says she still follows the same cooking method but swaps Nesquik for premium chocolate sourced from Ecuadorian producer, Republica Del Cacao, to cut back on the sweetness of the original recipe.
"We still use the same practice but with premium ingredients. The base is still condensed milk but instead of Nesquik we use premium cacao powder and premium dark chocolate, which gives a smoother texture," she explains.
The decision to go premium follows in the footsteps of Maria Brigadeiro, who introduced Brazil to artisanal-style versions of the national sweet when she founded a string of stores that became known for investing in premium ingredients.
"You ask any one today whether they want a traditional brigadeiro and people would say, 'no way, I want the gourmet version'."
"Since the premium version came out, it suddenly became this gourmet product in Brazil that was no longer something that was had just at kids' parties," Cardoso says.
"You ask anyone today whether they want a traditional brigadeiro and people would say, 'no way, I want the gourmet version'. Now, it's become a gift that you give to people for any occasion because it comes beautifully packaged and is considered as a treat."
Milk chocolate may be the original flavour, but Sweet Stone experiments with a range and focuses on nine premium expressions of the brigadeiro.
Among them includes salted pretzel featuring dulce de leche with crumbed pretzels; dois amigos, which is made from half white and dark chocolate before it's coated in coconut. There's also a Mayan variety that features a pinch of cayenne pepper; and a chai one that uses a blend of ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
Sweet Stone ships Australia-wide and can be found online. Photos by Sweet Stone.
A simple technique for making decorative white chocolate feathers to lift any dish.
The pear and Brazil nuts give these brownies a lovely subtle flavour. And what’s more, Brazil nuts are an excellent source of minerals, particularly selenium (important for thyroid function and the immune system). Cut the brownies small and freeze any left over. They make a great after-dinner treat.
Don’t baulk at cooking caramel. It takes 5 minutes and it’s the only way to get that candied crunch on these clusters. The trick is to work quickly before the caramel sets. We’ve chosen to toss the popcorn in a roasting tray (instead of a bowl), so the popcorn gets coated in caramel evenly, and lightly oil your tray and stirring spoon to stop the caramel from sticking.