Monday, February 6, 2012

Cooking Challenge Week 6 - Brazilian - Brigadeiro

I know nothing about Brazilian food, so I was both looking forward to and dreading this week's challenge.  I read up on a number of classic Brazilian dishes, but everything seemed a little too far out there--too many (expensive) ingredients, or an ingredient I couldn't get my hands on, or something I just flat-out thought I wouldn't like.

But then, there's brigadeiro.  Who can turn down chocolate?  Not me, I assure you.

For all that they look fancy, and they're incredibly delicious, they're also super fast and dead easy.  It took me ten minutes to cook, an hour in the fridge to cool, and no more than fifteen minutes to roll.  I can just feel my future self bitterly cursing me for discovering this new form of chocolate to gorge myself on.

Never one to make things easy on myself, even the first time, I did a tiny twist on the basic recipe, inspired by this adorable strawberry version, adding a little cherry preserves to mine.  The cherry taste is definitely there, but very light; I probably could have used more, but I was afraid of overdoing it.  I also see a lot of potential in the world of extracts--peppermint springs to mind, but I bet almond would be good too...

Chocolate-Cherry Brigadeiro
(makes 20-25, depending on size)

  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp cherry preserves, without any actual cherries (dig around them in the jar!)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick and pulls away from the side of the pan easily.  Pour into a small, greased pan or bowl to cool to room temperature--this step can be sped up by refrigeration.  With lightly oiled hands, break off small pieces and roll into smooth balls.  Roll balls in one or more coatings (see my thoughts below on my choices); place in small paper cups.

After my first few attempts, I found it much easier to roll all the pieces into balls and lay them out in the pan, then go back and roll them in the coatings.  Trying to coat each as I formed them was giving me club hand, just with oil and cocoa instead of dredge and fry batter!

Coatings: granulated sugar, powdered sugar, cocoa, finely chopped nuts, candy sprinkles or jimmies, shredded coconut

I tried the first three, and dutifully (ha!) sampled one of each to report my findings.  Biting into the cocoa-coated one started out a little bitter, but since the candy itself is quite sweet, the whole thing was well-balanced.  The powdered sugar, I didn't like so much; it wasn't bad, exactly, but it was too sweet for my taste.  My favorite of the three was definitely the granulated sugar--I liked the contrast between the grainy texture of the sugar and the smooth center, and while it was sweeter than the cocoa, it wasn't nearly as sweet as the powdered sugar.  Go figure!  I'm looking forward to trying some variety of nut next time, and definitely colored sprinkles.

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