According to my research, brigadeiros are just as much a staple at birthday parties in Brasil as birthday cake.  They are the national dessert that stirs up memories of childhood, because they really are served at every birthday party. You might call them bon-bons, fudge balls, or truffles, but they are really just sugary balls of deliciousness rolled in sprinkles. They also have one serious advantage over birthday cakes.  You know at a party you really have to wait until the proper moment, after singing “Parabéns a você!" and the candles have been blown out, to have any cake.  It's not so with brigadeiros.  They are so tiny, it's easy to grab a couple and nobody has to know.  Yes, I know this from first-hand experience.  But, I also noticed I wasn't the first person to do this.

The treat comes with a sweet history as well.  As with the rest of the world, times were lean in Brasil during and after World War II.  Creative women in Rio, using minimal ingredients, named this treat after the dashing young Air Force revolutionary and wannabe politician Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes.  He ran for president - twice - and lost both times.  I guess good looks don't equal lots of votes.  However, he gets my vote for most creative slogan. "Vote for the brigadier, who's good-looking and single!"  His opponent never got any kind of dessert named after him.

Yes, my introduction to brigadeiros was at a birthday party.  I arranged the three flavors to celebrate my friend Geremias' 50th birthday.  His brigadeiros were about an inch wide.  I saw others in a bakery closer to egg size.  Perhaps that was just too much deliciousness?  Well, then again, perhaps not.

Campo Mourão, Brasil

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
4 Tbs cocoa powder
2 Tbs butter
pinch of salt
1 cup of sprinkles of choice

Mix up the milk, cocoa, butter, and salt in a saucepan and then warm it up on the stove at medium-low heat.

The dish is sweet, but it requires a little tender loving care while making.  What I mean is it requires constant attention.  Stir continually for about ten minutes with a wooden spoon to prevent it from burning in the saucepan.  When the deliciousness is thick enough that it takes it a while to move, you're done with the cooking process.  Place your brigadeiro aside to cool down to room temperature.

It appears that the traditional sprinkle of choice is chocolate.  However, at my party there were also vanilla brigadeiros as well as some strawberry deliciousness.  My guess is you make the vanilla batch simply without the cocoa powder and the strawberry batch with some red food coloring and flavoring. So, there are options out there for you, but you need some kind of sprinkles.  Feel free to use chocolate sprinkles, vanilla sprinkles, strawberry sprinkles, chopped pistachios, sliced almonds, grated coconut, or mutli-colored sprinkles. This recipe should make about two dozen brigadeiros.  You may need about a cup of whatever sprinkling suites your tastes.

You have to individually make these little balls of sweetness.  You can start with a spoon or a melon scooper, but you're going to have to butter up your hands and individually roll the balls until they are about an inch to an inch and a half wide.  Then, roll them in a bowl or plate that contains your sprinkle of choice and place them in mini-paper baking cups or foil candy cups.  Chill until ready to serve them up to delighted and hungry party guests.

I read that they can store in your refrigerator up to a week, but I personally don't see how they could possible not be eaten up before then.