These traditional Brazilian fudge balls, Brigadeiro, are delicious 5 ingredient condensed milk and cocoa balls that take just minutes to make. Enjoy these chocolate fudge balls as an after dinner treat or give as a gift.
What are Brigadeiro?
Brigadeiro (pronounced bree-gah-day-roh) are fudgy, slightly chewy, and melt in the mouth Brazilian sweets. Some people call them chocolate truffles, others bonbons, however I think they taste more like chocolate fudge balls. Made from sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter and a pinch of salt, they used to also be made with eggs. However nowadays most recipes, like this Brigadeiro recipe, are egg free. Spoonfuls of the cooled chocolate fudge are rolled by hand into little balls, and then rolled in chocolate sprinkles (vermicelli). They are then placed in to little paper cases or served as they are.
Why we love this recipe
- Quick and easy recipe – made from just 5 ingredients, and are ready to eat in under an hour, these Brazilian chocolate truffles with condensed milk are made in one pan.
- This traditional Brazilian dessert is not only a delicious way to end a meal, but they are a tasty sweet canapé, delicious at Christmas or New Years Eve parties.
- If you are looking for an easy edible gift idea, these fudge balls make the perfect gift. Pop them into little candy cases in a box, or place in a cellophane bag.
- Brazilian Brigadeiro balls are chocolate truffles without cream. Despite their rich chocolate taste they are also truffles made without chocolate. Made from store cupboard ingredients they are perfect for whipping up last minute and are cheaper than many traditional chocolate truffle recipes.
Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Sweetened condensed milk – use sweetened condensed milk for the best flavour and texture in your Brazilian fudge. Using condensed milk helps give these balls their fudgy flavour and texture, like hedgehog slice.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – This gives the balls a rich dark chocolate flavour, without the use of chocolate. I advise against using chocolate powder as this will make the chocolate truffles far too sweet.
- Butter – I recommend using unsalted butter to make this recipe. You can then add a pinch of salt to taste.
- Salt – use kosher salt or sea salt. Adding salt to the condensed milk mixture enhances the chocolate flavour.
- Vermicelli – to coat the chocolate truffle balls. You can use grated chocolate, cocoa powder, crumbled Cadbury’s flake bars if you cannot find them. If you are in Australia you will find them called ‘Choclettes sprinkles’ at Woolworths, or chocolate sprinkles.
How to make this recipe
- Place the the condensed milk, butter, cocoa powder and salt in a medium saucepan and cook over a medium heat.
- Keep stirring with a spoon until the mixture thickens – this can take 5 minutes.
- Leave the fudge mixture in the pan until cool enough to handle.
- Using lightly buttered hands, take teaspoons of the mixture and form in to balls.
- Roll In the vermicelli and place on a serving plate or in paper candy cups.
After World War 2, Brazil was electing a new president, and one of the candidates was the charming and handsome Brigadier Eduardo Gomes. Women were now allowed to vote, and Eduardo had many female fans, many of whom would prepare sweets to raise funds and awareness for him. Because it was just after the war, many ingredients were still rationed. So, instead of using milk and sugar, one lady created a new candy with sweet condensed milk instead, in honour of the Brigadier (Brigadeiro). Poor Eduardo didn’t win the election, but not everyone has a chocolate truffle named after them, which I hope was some consolation!
Chewy, fudgy, and rich with chocolate, these chocolate brigadeiros taste like balls of dark chocolate fudge.
Chocolate truffles are traditionally made with a chocolate ganache (made from chocolate and cream). Brigadeiro are made with condensed milk and the chocolate flavour comes from cocoa powder rather than chocolate.
My recipe tips
- Keep stirring! This will ensure the brigadeiro mixture won’t burn (and it is quick to burn, so don’t leave it!)
- Leave the mixture to cool for a few minutes before you handle it as it gets pretty hot.
- Rolling into balls: If you find it sticking to your hands, grease them with a little butter.
- If you can’t find vermicelli – which I have found tricky since moving to Australia – you can roll the chocolate balls in finely grated milk or dark chocolate. I have also rolled them in a crumbled Cadbury’s flake bar.
- If the balls begin to flatten when you’ve rolled them, place the mixture In the fridge to harden up.
- Making double or triple the batch. Don’t be tempted to make a larger pan in one pan. Cook two or three smaller batches, then you can control the cooking time and texture of the fudge balls.
- Cooking time – if you cook the mixture too long it will become very chewy like toffee (and if it catches can taste bitter). If you don’t cook the mixture long enough it is more fudge like and harder to roll in balls.
Storage / make ahead
- Room temperature: These Brazilian fudge balls keep for 3-4 days at room temperature.
- Freeze: You can also freeze Brigadeiro. Once you have rolled the chocolate balls in the vermicelli / chocolate flakes, place them on a lined baking tray, not touching. Freeze until solid, then place in an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost the truffles in the fridge for a couple of hours.
- To coat: you can use grated chocolate, vermicelli, sprinkles, desiccated coconut or finely chopped nuts such as almonds or hazelnuts.
- Coconut Brigadeiro – roll in desiccated coconut, and either leave the cocoa powder in to make chocolate coconut truffles, or take out for a coconut truffle.
- Lemon brigadeiro – leave out the cocoa powder and add lemon zest.
- If you don’t want to shape the mixture in to balls, you can eat the mixture straight out of the pan, with a spoon, as a fudge sauce (let it sit a few minutes before you delve in as the sugar will be very hot!), or serve In spoons next to coffee.
More quick and easy sweet recipes
Brigadeiro (Brazilian Fudge Balls)
- 397g (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk ($1.50 / £1.00 )
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder ($0.53 / £0.26p )
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter ($0.21 / £0.11p )
- pinch salt ($0.01 / £0.01 )
- chocolate vermicelli, to coat ($0.75 / £0.40 )
- Heat the condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter and salt in a small pan over a medium heat, mixing consistently to stop it from burning.
- Continue stirring until thick. The way to test this is to run your spoon across the bottom of the saucepan, if the gap left by your spoon in the brigadeiro mixture takes time to fill, then the mixture is ready.
- Take off the heat and leave the mixture to cool to room temperature – you can eat it like this! or make into balls.
- To make balls:
- Sprinkle your coating (grated chocolate, vermicelli, flake) on a plate.
- Take a teaspoon of the mixture and roll into balls between your hands, then roll in the coating straight away.
- If the mixture sticks to your hands, rub a little butter on your hands to grease them.