An iconic Brazilian treat, brigadeiros are easy to make creamy fudge balls, perfect for Christmas or any time of the year you crave fudge.
Why you’ll love it: They taste just like truffles!
How long it takes: about a half hour to make but allow extra time for chilling, at least a couple of hours
Equipment you’ll need: saucepan, 9 x 9 inch pan, parchment paper
Servings: makes 60, depending on size
Don’t these candies look like beautiful little gems? Can’t you just picture them on your plate of Christmas cookies? Perfect bites of creamy fudge that dreamily melt in your mouth, coated in a colorful array of crunchy candies, sprinkles, and cocoa. They look like a confection you’d discover in a Parisian bonbon boutique.
I’m giving you a heads up, they are dangerously hard to resist. They are pretty similar to expensive truffles!
About this Brigadeiro Recipe
Pronounced bre-ga-DAY-ro, these fudgy little treats are so easy to make! This Brazilian candy is traditionally made with sweetened condensed milk but this brigadeiro recipe uses marshmallows instead.
The end result is a creamy fudge that’s easy to prepare, cooks in less than 10 minutes, and is pretty much fool proof. You won’t need a candy thermometer to make this confection.
I’ll get you started on the recipe here and give you lots of extra helpful tips. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the printable recipe card with full instructions and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Butter: Doesn’t all good fudge begin with butter? Use unsalted butter. You’ll need a half stick.
- Mini Marshmallows: Larger marshmallows work too. Just cut them into small pieces.
- Sugar: Regular granulated white sugar like you would use for baking.
- Whole Milk: You’ll need whole milk, no nonfat or low-fat milk for these babies.
- Bittersweet Chocolate: A good quality chocolate is essential for good quality candy. You can use chocolate chips if you like but buy a good brand.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: For flavor.
- Your Choice Of: crushed peppermint candies; cocoa powder; powdered sugar; nonpareil sprinkles; colored sprinkles; finely chopped toasted walnuts; finely chopped pistachios; ground freeze-dried raspberries; matcha powder
How To Make This Recipe
Blend the butter, marshmallows, sugar, and milk together in a saucepan on the stove. It doesn’t take long for the marshmallows to melt into the butter and sugar, making a creamy base.
Remove the pan from the heat, add a teaspoon of vanilla, and stir in the bittersweet chocolate chunks until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is completely melted. Does anything smell better than warm melted chocolate? I don’t think so.
This warm mixture is poured into a small cake pan lined with parchment paper to cool. It needs to cool on the counter for 30 minutes, and then in the fridge for at least an hour. The colder the fudge, the easier it is to roll into balls. You can actually refrigerate it a couple of days, tightly wrapped.
When the fudge is good and cold, lift it out of the pan in one big piece, using the parchment paper to grab it, and cut it into approximately 60 squares. This isn’t an exact science, but it’s nice if the size of the brigadeiros are relatively uniform. Really, you can make them however big or small you like them.
Roll each square into a ball shape. Coat the brigadeiros in the topping of your choice (check out the Make It Your Own section). The rolling process goes pretty quickly. I like to put half the fudge back in the fridge to stay nice and cold while I’m rolling the first half.
Use disposable food safe gloves when you roll the balls. This keeps the fudge from getting really sticky and you stay cleaner, too. Secure the cuffs of the gloves by slipping rubber bands over your wrists.
A Brief History of Brigadeiros
These chocolate treats have a fascinating history. According to Atlas Obscura, this iconic Brazilian treat was first created as a campaign incentive for Air Force Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, who was running for president of Brazil in 1945. He supported women’s rights, among other things, and was apparently a good looking bachelor. In fact, one of his campaign slogans was “Vote for the brigadier, who’s good looking and single”!
Women supporters, looking for a way to raise money for his campaign, sold chocolate “brigadeiros” at rallies. Traditionally, they are made with sweetened condensed milk, which was widely available at the time and inexpensive.
They can be stored at room temperature for up to three days but they will soften a bit and may become a bit sticky. I prefer to store them in the refrigerator or another cool dry place where they’ll keep for longer and maintain their quality better.
A truffle is made with chocolate and heavy cream while a traditional brigadeiro is made from chocolate and sweetened condensed milk. A brigadeiro is soft both on the outside and the inside, while a truffle often has a harder coating and is firmer.
The recipe I’m bringing you today is made with melted marshmallows instead of sweetened condensed milk, for an ultra creamy fudge treat.
Make It Your Own
For this photo, I rolled my brigadeiros in cocoa powder, multi-colored sprinkles, and crushed peppermint candies. Other options are:
- nonpareil (white) sprinkles, chocolate jimmies, or any color sprinkles
- finely chopped pistachios for a lovely green color
- toasted walnuts, finely chopped, or another nut of your choosing
- powdered sugar
- ground freeze-dried raspberries (a beautiful pinkish red)
- bright green matcha powder
- To flavor the fudge to complement the coatings, replace the vanilla with ½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract, ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract, or 1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur, such as Framboise.
- For espresso flavor, add 2 teaspoons espresso powder to the sugar when you melt the marshmallows.
Brigadeiros can be stored in the refrigerator or a cool dry location for at least 7 days in an airtight container, with parchment or waxed paper between layers. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.
Wondering how long brigadeiros can sit out on a platter? They are fine for a couple of hours. They will get a little softer.
More Chocolatey Recipes
Who doesn’t love chocolate? Here’s a few more recipes to tempt you:
- No Bake Chocolate Tart (only 4 ingredients)
- Mexican Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- Peppermint Chocolate Sugar Cookies
- Chocolate Peppermint Kiss Cookies
- Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
- Best Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Hot Chocolate Dip
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups mini marshmallows (or 6 oz. large marshmallows, cut into pieces)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 12 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips)
- Your choice of: pulverized peppermint candies; cocoa powder; powdered sugar; nonpareil sprinkles; colored sprinkles; finely chopped toasted walnuts; finely chopped pistachios; ground freeze-dried raspberries; matcha powder
- Spray 9×9 pan lightly with cooking spray. Line with 2 pieces of parchment paper crossed over each other, leaving a 1 inch overhang. Spray parchment lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine butter, marshmallows, sugar, milk, and salt in medium sized saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until marshmallows have melted and mixture is smooth, 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate until melted and completely mixed with marshmallow mixture.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan. Let cool 30 minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
- Grasp the parchment paper on each side, and lift the whole piece of fudge onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the fudge into approximately 60 1-inch squares. Place desired toppings into small bowls. With gloved hands (to prevent fudge from sticking to your hands), roll into balls. Roll in toppings.
- Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container with layers of waxed or parchment paper between each layer.
- Wear disposable food-safe gloves to roll the balls.
- To flavor the fudge to complement the coatings, replace the vanilla with ½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract, ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract, or 1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur, such as Framboise. You can also try adding 2 teaspoons espresso powder when you melt the marshmallows (with the sugar).
- adapted from Martha Stewart Living December 2019.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.