As much as cupcakes and the myriad permutations thereof are popular in the USA, brigadeiros are the primary bite-sized dessert in Brazil. Named for a Portuguese brigadier in the 1940s, a brigadeiro is essentially a chocolate caramel truffle coated in chocolate sprinkles. However, much like cupcakes, riffs off of the traditional brigadeiro are increasingly common, including exotic flavors and coatings. If you are not looking for anything fancy, the basic brigadeiro is found at most Brazilian restaurants and cafes, and pretty much every snack shop has brigadeiros in stock for less than a dollar. Perhaps the best thing about the brigadeiro is how easy it is to make, and how few ingredients it requires. For example, this America’s Test Kitchen recipe has only condensed milk, butter and cocoa. Some other recipes, like these from Honest Cooking and Cuca Brazuca also require chocolate drink powdered mix. The typical finish for a brigadeiro is being rolled in classic chocolate sprinkles, though another Brazilian favorite is a coatings of large black and white candy puffed-rice spheres known as “crocantes.” Of course you can also play with different brigadeiro flavors, including peanut butter or almond!
If you are in Brazil, we highly recommend some exploration to find your favorite brigadeiro. Nearly every corner bakery/cafe/deli/lanchonete will have brigadeiros for sale, so you can sample dozens a day, if you would like. If you are going for something unique, visit Maria Brigadeiro ( Pinheiros: Rua Capote Valente 68) in São Paulo, where there are over 20 varieties of gourmet brigadeiros available at the shop, including esoteric choices like Port Wine or Sesame. Time Out São Paulo has a feature on the some of the other best brigadeiros in Sao Paulo. Our favorite Brigadeiro stop in Salvador was Brigadeira Mix in Shopping Barra, which was just a small kiosk, but it boasted a large variety of flavors, including our favorite, negresco (cookies and cream). But brigadeiros are not only the purview of fancy shops. In Rio de Janeiro you can buy them on the street (though it is a wonder that they don not melt in the heat). Our favorite classic brigadeiros in Rio de Janeiro are found at Bomboniere Pathe (Centro: Praça Floriano nº- 45). But don’t take our word for it – go try some for yourself!