Cooking teacher Leticia Moreinos has one thing on her mind: to put Brazilian cooking on the map. “Brazilian food is too often bunched in with other Latin American foods,” says Leticia. “I want everyone to know that we have our own very distinctive cuisine.”
A native of Rio de Janeiro, Leticia learned to cook from her family’s housekeeper—and collected dozens of recipes in the process. As an adult, she moved to New York to go to culinary school and later worked at some of the city’s most renowned French restaurants. But those childhood recipes haunted her, and it wasn’t long before she gave up sauces and reductions to return to her roots.
Now, she’s spreading the word through her popular Brazilian cooking classes, including this one, on Brazil’s national treat: the brigadeiro.
Brigadeiros may look like truffles, but they’re more like little fudge balls made with sweetened condensed milk and covered not with cocoa powder but sprinkles. Leticia shows us how to make Chocolate Brigadeiros, beginning to end. Or try one of her variations on the classic: Coconut or Pistachio brigadeiros
Class begins with Leticia bringing condensed milk, butter, cream, and corn syrup to a boil before she whisks in chocolate and cocoa powder. “Traditionally, brigadeiros’ flavor comes from cocoa powder,” says Leticia. “But the way I figure it, why not make it with the real stuff? I like to use the best-quality dark chocolate.”
As the brigadeiro mixture cooks over a medium-low burner, it slowly begins to thicken. “It starts to feel like fudge,” says Leticia. “You know you’re almost done when you see whisk trails in the batter.”
“Learning when to stop cooking the batter is the trickiest part of making brigadeiros,” Leticia warns. “If the batter is undercooked, your brigadeiros will be too soft; if the batter is overcooked, they will be hard and chewy.” The batter is done when it slides to one side of the pan in a blob and leaves a thick residue on the bottom.
Top tip: Great texture is all about knowing just how long to cook the batter. It should slide out of the pan, leaving a thick residue behind.
A small ice cream scoop is Leticia’s tool of choice for scooping up the batter, but a melon baller or a teaspoon works just fine.
“Rolling the scooped-up batter between the palms of your hands is the best way to get a smooth, even ball,” suggests Leticia.
To coat a brigadeiro evenly, Leticia covers it with sprinkles and then rolls it gently in her hands, exerting the slightest pressure to make sure the sprinkles adhere.