cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Brigadeiros - Truffles from Brasil

chocolate in a hot kitchen Do you know what a Brigadeiro is? No it is not a cookie, not a pastry, not a military figure from antiquity, but rather a simple little truffle covered in sprinkles that melts on the tongue. My editor suggested I play around with these candies about (exactly) a month (and 6.5 days) ago, informing me of their overt popularity and the saucy little detail that, aside from containing no wheat, they have the look. And we here at the Salty Cod covet and invest a great deal in the importance of presentation. I had been waiting for an excuse to make them; an event to share them at, ok fine an event to display them at. Enter 18 Juillet, l'anniversaire de ma soeur. Excellent. Two birds will die at the expense of only one projectile. She will undoubtedly be quite charmed by such a statement, but she is a true supporter of all Salty Cod endeavors, sacrifice much for the good of the many! Ah screw it, she gets some chocolates. So on y va.

The Brigadeiro is reminiscent of a chocolate truffle, though much simpler. Brasilians have a knack for making the good things simpler. Except for verbs. They don't make those very simple. But that's the Portuguese' fault. Actually, in reflection I can offer no other example of simplicity other than the chocolate. Therefore the prior assertion is here now with us merely as an obtuse phrase for the sake of romantic poetics. Anyways. There truthfully are only four ingredients to the little sweety; cocoa powder, sweetend condensed milk, butter, and sprinkles. C'est tout. The candy first appeared on the scene environ the 1940's, at the time when Nestle first began to export cocoa powder to Brasil, at the time their second largest export to the country next to sweetend condensed milk. How about that, two of the TWO main ingredients in the Brigadiero.

Food history is an interesting subject matter; nearly every creation we covet has a history, a myth to accompany its birth and naming. The world of gastronomic history is an odysee of fables and facts that combine in enough variation to fill a ten volume set of infantile bedtime stories. When "researching" a foods history one inevitably encounters, at the minimum, three variant explanations of its origin. And while nearly every account of the story found on the internet is a re-worded version of the one found at our dear freind Wikipedia, (where would man be without the wikipedia) the story of how a food came about and how it was named are differing in every media. The stories are kept in homes, in family anecdotes, in history books, in cook books, in cultural lore, etc. The naming of edibles throughout the world has and continues to be a subject of interest, honor, and ever-changing myth. From Australia's fuzzy little Lammington, to France's mysterious Madeleine, the origin of names is as integral a part of the dish as the thing itself. One must take note, however, that there are a few concrete gastronomic descriptions out there. The Quaker Oats man was in fact a quaker after all, and not rather a Shaker in disguise.

Collective opinion on the internet places the naming of the candy on the shoulders of Brigadier aviator Eduardo Gomes. Now whether the Brigadier was awarded such an honor for his heroic aviation record, a failed run for the presidency, his public love for sweet treats at birthday parties, his noted ability surpassing that of Chuck Noris' at one-armed cobra wrestling whilst blindfolded, or my favorite found at the site of a fellow internet food (writer?) : Well, back in 1922, he was tall, dark-haired with blue eyes. AND SINGLE!!! I must say, the truth could be any, they all appear to hold some amount of water. In metrics. But perhaps, as is the case in dissecting and digesting any and all genres of history of this world, the real answer is never just one singular fact, but rather a combination of myriad perspectives taken always with a grain of salt and with a questioning eye.

If you are still with me by this point in the novel then I assume you, like me, are thinking that the Brigadeiro is without contestation the most fascinating candy available for human consumption. Chouette non. Therefore we must make them now. Mixing the candies in the old country-house kitchen while Paella is being assembled on one side of the room, a constant stream of the six dogs rotating through eager for perhaps a bite, the clinking of wine being poured that never seems to ebb, and the passings of bystandards (ok family), mon unc puff bellows at me "what are you making now, some French crap?" No, I respond, it's brasilian. "Oh no not Brasilian crap!" It appears that there is a lot of crap in this world, but what can I say, I am attracted to crap, that's all.

English ~ 1 can sweetened condensed milk ~ 4 tbsp cocoa powder ~ 1.5 tbsp butter ~ sprinkles

In a saucepan over low heat stir all ingredients (not sprinkles) for 15-20 minutes until it begins to thicken. Romove from heat, and butter a plate or shallow bowl, turn out chocolate mixture onto the plate and let cool until hard enough to maintain a shape when molded. If kitchen is very hot, do not hesitate placeing plate in freezer as a short cut. It is evident now that all kitchens in brasil come air conditioned. Roll chocolate into small balls with buttered hands, and roll in sprinkles until completely covered. Place ball in small paper cups. Fini!

Francais ~ 1 boite boîte de lait concentré ~ 4 cuillères à soupe de chocolat en poudre ~ 21 gr du beurre ~ vermicelles au chocolat

Chauffez les ingredients pour 15-20 minutes sur un flam moyen. Avec les mains, mettez du beurre sur un assiette, et apres mettez le chocolat sur l'assiette. Laissez le chocolat jusqu'au il devenir froid. Formez des petits bols, et roullez dans les vermicelles.

Portuguese ~1 lata de leite condensado ~ 21 gr de manteiga ~ 4 colheres de chocolate em pó ~ chocolate (sprinkles)

Don't make me try to get past more than the ingredients. Baby steps here.
There always is a story to what you're eating. Find it before you take a bite. Joyeux anniversaire sister M! Pretty treats for a pretty party. And thank brasil, for the treat.

à bientôt


Katie said...

What an interesting pot. I love your blog!

Which is harder to learn - French or Portugese? I am currently learning Spanish & French, and I want to learn many more. (Portugese, Italian, Greek, Latin, Mandarin Chinese...I am crazy, right? Ha-ha. I just love culture & I dream of international travel.)

Christy said...

Love the truffles!! I agree on your opinion that there never seems to be one singular history of origin for most of the famous foods. And the Quaker is a quaker after all? a child growing up I've never doubted that the Quaker is the product of the healthy imagination of the creative mind behind Quaker Oatmeal--not that I am not aware later on that quakers really do exist, mind you; just more of the fact that I've never put two and two together to make...what is it?? 4 or 22?

Anyway, I don't know if you are already aware of this blog, but it has a lot of info on food history and I find that it can sometimes tame my insatiable appetite for historical information pertaining to food (except for the Brigadeiro. That I come to you.)

Rachel said...

a) i loved the history of brigadeiro!
b) i live for brigadeiro. not really but it's up there.