Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Brigadeiros - Brazilian Truffles

You gotta love when you discover some new treat that you never heard of before. Better yet, one that is so simple and with only three ingredients.



This weekend I was watching some cooking show and they started talking about a Brazilian treat that is the equivalent to what cupcakes are to us.  We have cupcake stores, they have brigadeiro stores. Apparently brigadeiros are found at any and every social event. The name comes from them being named after Brigadier Eduardo Gomes.

Turns out, they are basically like our chocolate truffles - chocolate bonbons with three base ingredients.  Our truffles are made with chocolate, heavy cream, and flavoring, usually vanilla. Brigadeiros have sweetened condensed milk, Ovaltine or Nesquik, and butter. While truffles melt in your mouth, brigadeiros are chewier and stickier, so more akin to caramels. Apparently the need for Ovaltine/Nesquik is because the sweetened condensed milk in Brazil is even sweeter than the American version. 

I decided to experiment over the weekend and made three different versions using two different methods - stovetop and microwave.

First the ingredients:  

1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
3 Tablespoons Ovaltine
1 T butter

That was the recipe in its original form.  I wanted to see about using quality cocoa (Scharffenberger) but I didn't want to add more sugar. Instead I added 2 packets of real stevia (Stevia in the Raw).



The third variation I decided to use my chocolate flavored Shakeology. For those unfamiliar with it, it's a shake with 70 natural superfood ingredients such as maca, moringa, camu-camu, etc. People are always submitting recipes using it, so I thought the chocolate powder would work perfectly for this. 


Next was to try both methods of cooking it - stovetop and microwave.  Comments on results later.

Stovetop:

Mix together ingredients in a saucepan and put over medium-low heat, stirring CONSTANTLY. It will burn on the bottom and sides and get lumpy if you do not stir constantly. When the mixture reaches a thick stage so that when you draw your spoon through it and you can see the bottom of the pan for a second before it settles, then it is almost done. Cook it for another minute. This will take about 10 minutes total.  You want it the consistency of really thick mud.

Microwave:

Mix together ingredients in a microwave proof bowl and microwave on high at one minute intervals, stirring between each minute. Keep an eye on it as it can boil over and leave a big mess in your microwave! Again, it's done when you can draw your spoon through it and it leaves a valley through it. I found this to be about 5 minutes of incremental microwaving.


cooled and ready to form
Assembly:

Let mixture cool to room temperature. Spray your hands with cooking oil and wipe off excess with a paper towel. Take spoonfuls and roll them in your hands to form balls.  Roll in toppings of choice: nuts, cocoa powder, sprinkles.   I suggest a mixture of 3 T cocoa, 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t cayenne pepper for a spicy kick.

Results - stovetop vs microwave

The easier method was the microwave. The tastier method is the stovetop. Here's why.

The microwave doesn't have the problem with having to stir constantly otherwise you risk clumpiness and burned bits. But you do need to still keep an eye on it. I had a boil over on the first batch and it was a sticky mess.

The reason for the stovetop version being tastier makes perfect sense. If you keep cooking sweetened condensed milk you get caramel or dulce de leche. So if you keep cooking this mixture on the stovetop, it develops this lovely caramel flavoring to it that doesn't seem to develop in the microwave version. It also was a bit more chewy.



As for the versions using Ovaltine, cocoa/stevia, and Shakeology?  They all worked and they all tasted good!  Just different.  I think that I would opt for cocoa/stevia myself.  I'd want to use high quality cocoa like Scharffenburger or Guittard while not adding even more sugar. The stevia worked well for adding the extra sweetness (naturally) but not adding more to spiking my blood sugar levels than the sweetened condensed milk already did. A good compromise.

Brigadeiros are super easy, cheap, and different. What could be better for using as holiday treats this year?!



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