Brigadeiros are a popular sweet treat in Brazil similar to American fudge. With Halloween fast approaching, most of us here in the US are indulging in all things pumpkin spice, from lattes to donuts. But what about pumpkin fudge? It’s so easy to make and the creamy, indulgent sweet flavor is a perfect canvas for pumpkin. Skip the complicated pies and breads and make a batch of pumpkin fudge balls instead for your next Fallget-together.
Pumpkin Fudge vs Brigadeiros
We are technically making pumpkin brigadeiros today, not fudge. Both utilize condensed milk as the main sweetener and thickener. The main difference is the shape and texture. Brigadeiros are rolled into balls, as opposed to the cut squares of traditional American fudge. They are also softer than fudge, since they typically omit ingredients like chocolate chips in favor of cocoa powder or other non-hardening ingredients, like coconut milk and butter.
The cooking time is also different for brigadeiros vs pumpkin fudge. Fudge requires minimal heat, just enough to melt the ingredients together. For brigadeiros, the condensed milk and other ingredients must be cooked and stirred continuously for up to fifteen minutes to fully thicken the mixture.
Do Brazilians Even Like Pumpkin Fudge?
You may be wondering about the authenticity of this recipe. After all, most Brazilians do not celebrate Halloween, which is the driving force behind many American Autumn traditions (including all things pumpkin spice).
Likewise, Brazilian Fall does not occur during October, but during our spring months (March-May). So the chilly temperatures we associate with the ever-divisive pumpkin spice latte are irrelevant during the same time period in Brazil.
So the question is: do Brazilians even like pumpkin sweets, like fudge or brigadeiro? We would say, “yes!” Sweets and new flavors never go amiss in Brazil, and there are plenty of national savory dishes that already incorporate pumpkin. So it seems only natural that a sweet pumpkin dish would be appreciated.
Tips for Pumpkin Fudge Balls
There are a few things you can do to make assembling your round pumpkin fudge/brigadeiros easier:
- Don’t Over/undercook: the first step is to make sure you do not undercook or overcook your mixture. If undercooked, the “dough” will be too soft to roll into balls; overcooked, and it will harden to the point that you can’t scoop any out to roll.
- Grease your hands: coat your hands in a little softened butter as you roll your pumpkin fudge balls. This will keep them from sticking to your palms and fingers.
- Adequately chill: chill the dough just long enough to harden, but not so long it becomes impossible to scoop. One hour should be sufficient.
Storing Pumpkin Fudge
You can make pumpkin fudge balls ahead of time. They will keep well for a week or so stored in a container with a lid. You can also freeze them, but it is better if you just freeze the mixture rather than the fully assembled brigadeiros. If you do want to freeze the individual balls, avoid the sugar dusting until ready to serve. It will absorb into the frozen balls, affecting their texture.
Pumpkin Fudge Balls Recipe (Brigadeiros com Abóbora)
For the fudge:
One 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 oz pumpkin puree
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground cloves
⅛ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
20 mini cupcake liners
For the coating:
¼ cup raw sugar
- Combine the condensed milk, butter, pumpkin puree, and spices in a saucepan and stir over medium heat. You will need to stir constantly to avoid the mixture burning. When the mixture begins to bubble lightly, keep stirring until you can drag the spoon along the bottom of the pan and see it clearly for a few seconds. This should take around fifteen minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a plate or bowl and refrigerate for one hour.
- Mix your raw sugar and cinnamon together and put it in a shallow dish or tupperware for easy coating.
- Remove the hardened pumpkin fudge from the refrigerator. Butter your clean hands and scoop a small amount of the fudge and roll into a bite-sized ball. Roll the ball in the cinnamon sugar, then place in a candy cup. Repeat until you have used up all of your mixture.
- Serve immediately or chill for up to four days before guests arrive.
- Serve with hot coffee or a mug of quentao de vinho.