Traditional brigadeiros in Brazil are chocolate fudge balls served in little cupcake flutes and topped with chocolate sprinkles. Like many Brazilian desserts, condensed milk is used as a base. Brigadeiros are considered a “must” at parties, since the bite-sized treats are so delicious and easy to make. They are also highly customizable, since they require only a few simple ingredients. They can be found in various flavors and iterations, including today’s brigadeiro cake.
Where Do Brigadeiros Come From?
The first Brigadeiros are attributed to Heloísa Nabuco de Oliveira, a confectioner from Rio de Janeiro. During the presidential elections of 1946, Heloisa was an ardent supporter of Eduardo Gomes. Gomes held the military rank of “Brigadier,” and it is thought that Heloisa developed and named the new dessert in his honor. The original name was “doce de brigadeiro,” but it was eventually shortened to just “brigadeiro.”
The classic Brigadeiro has a signature look: small, round balls topped with chocolate sprinkles and served in paper bonbon cups. However, you will find many variations on the theme throughout the country. Like French truffles, Brigadeiros lend themselves to all sorts of flavors and toppings. Coconut is quite popular, as is strawberry, lemon, and various nut mixtures.
The Brigadeiro recipe can also be applied to larger confections, like pies and cakes. The creamy texture is a perfect frosting for a dense crumb cake or a filling for a silky chocolate pie. Today’s recipe is for a Brigadeiro cake: a moist, two-layer chocolate cake is filled and iced with brigadeiro frosting, then coated in plenty of chocolate sprinkles.
Brigadeiros vs Truffles vs Fudge
Brigadeiros are quite similar to both truffles and American fudge. However, each of these confections has a slightly different texture due to their ingredients.
Truffles are made with “ganache,” a mixture of chocolate and heavy cream. Their texture is soft and creamy, and they are often not as sweet as fudge or Brigadeiros.
Like Brigadeiros, fudge is made with condensed milk and chocolate. However the ratio of chocolate to condensed milk is much higher, and the chocolate takes the form of chips or a chopped bar. The resulting texture is much harder than a truffle or a Brigadeiro.
Brigadeiros typically incorporate butter and powdered chocolate in addition to the condensed milk, which makes them softer than fudge and slightly chewier than truffles.
Can I Use Cake Mix for Brigadeiro Cake?
Of course! Store-bought cake mixes will be perfectly fine for this recipe, especially if you are in a hurry or don’t want to deal with the extra ingredients. The star of the show is really the Brigadeiro frosting, so make sure you don’t cut corners for that!
Can I Make Brigadeiros Without Condensed Milk?
We have never tried to do this ourselves, but Pies and Tacos has a lovely recipe for a vegan and paleo option for Brigadeiros that incorporates coconut butter, cashew butter, and vegan chocolate chips. Certainly worth a try!
What is Table Cream?
Table cream is a dense, shelf-stable cream that is sold in can or jar form. You can often find it in the international section of the grocery store as Mexican crema or Media Crema. In the can, especially, you will notice a clear liquid above the cream, which tends to settle to the bottom. Before you use the cream, strain off this liquid.
If you do not have table cream, you can substitute heavy cream. You may need to adjust the amount of butter and cornstarch, however, to achieve the desired consistency.
For the Brigadeiro Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Frosting
2 14 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup table cream with serum strained off (see above)
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter
1.5 cups cocoa powder
Lots of chocolate sprinkles (2-3 cups)
- Start the frosting. In a saucepan, whisk together your milk, cocoa powder, and cornstarch. Then add in the table cream, condensed milk, and butter.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. After about 10-15 minutes, you should have a thick consistency similar to mousse or pudding.
- Once you have achieved your pudding consistency, remove the brigadeiro cake frosting from the heat. Pour the mixture into a heat safe bowl and cover with cling film.
- Let the mixture cool down to room temperature, then transfer it to the refrigerator and allow it to cool for 1-2 hours.
- While the brigadeiro frosting cools, bake your chocolate cake. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease two 8×2” round cake pans. For easier removal, line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer, blend flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and milk.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter (don’t over mix!).
- Divide the brigadeiro cake batter evenly between your two prepared pans.
- Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
- Let the cakes cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan.
- To frost the cake, place one of the rounds with the flat side up. Scoop a cup or so of your brigadeiro frosting and spread it evenly over the top of the cake.
- Place the second brigadeiro cake round on top of the frosted cake again with the flat side up. Spread the remainder of your chocolate frosting on the top and sides of the cake. It does not have to be perfect! You’ll be coating it all with sprinkles, anyway.
- Finally, cover your cake liberally with chocolate sprinkles. This can be a little tricky, and you can expect to get some frosting on your hands. If you don’t want to put sprinkles on the sides, just put a good layer over the top.