How much do you think a brigadeiro cake costs? one of H's crazy aunts asked me last weekend. I don't know, I replied, 50 reais? I don't buy cakes at bakeries so i really don't know, but this being Brazil where everything is overpriced probably a little steap. R$50? she wrinkled her nose in a slight disappointment. Twenty minutes later i learned that that she was actually asking how much a brigadeiro cake would cost me to make. My Portuguese is still in toddler form. Ahhh, a cake order. Our first cake order in Brazil, hot dog. For how many, and when? Next saturday, she replied, for seventy people. Seventy? Oh boy I'm in trouble.
A brigadeiro is a small squishy condensed-milk based chocolate truffle covered in sprinkles. So a brigadeiro cake would be some type of cake covered in a squishy condensed-milk based chocolate coating topped off with sprinkles. Easy enough, i can do that. The first time i made brigadeiro truffles was about two years ago, and happens to be posted here on this exact blog. But a cake for seventy people...foreget it. I'll spread upward but not out; sheet cakes horrify me. Yep, can't do it. Large rounds or squared, tiered if they must be are the only type of large cakes i'll do. Plus, i don't even own a bowl yet so what makes you think i have a sheet cake pan. As a snob, the only answer to cake for large parties is cupcakes. So seventy cupcakes and a large cake to cut into and adorn with candles. Let's do it.
The cakes were done up on friday, which was also a Brazil game, so the plan was to finish baking everything before it started at 11am. One cupcake pan and three boiling pots for mixing and we did it; seventy cupcakes and a three lawyer round all before the start of the game. As this is Brazil, H came home to watch the game...2 hour work day. His excuse was that we (we actually did) had to go to the dentist right after the game. My first dentist visit in Brazil...we can talk about that later. Unfortunately, brazil tied with the colonizers. But that's ok. We had homemade pizza for lunch and a lovely trip to the dentist to follow it.
The brigadeiro army of cakes was for the birthday party of a 13 year old cousin, last weekend was the birthday party of a 7 year old cousin. Not sure yet whose birthday party is next weekend. This family is way too big. Birthday party every week. I have never made this many cakes at the same time before, not even for my graduation party a year ago. My birthday is in about two weeks... i think i will make ice cream instead.
The brigadeiro cake topping consumed four cans of condensed milk. That's a lot of caramel. The cakes are chocolate truffle cakes; meaning that they contain both actual chocolate as well as cocoa powder. Brigadeiros are about as famous as the pão de queijo is in Brazil; traditionally brigadeiro is a birthday party staple, but they can be found pretty much year round at any bakery. Or, you can spend a few pennies and make your own. Brigadeiro truffles are usually rolled into balls and then covered in chocolate sprinkles, but there is nothing wrong with simply eating it on a spoon.
Chocolate Truffle Cake (makes one dozen)
Ingredients: 2 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup milk, 1/2 cup cocoa powder
Method: Mix together the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, whip the butter, eggs and sugar. Add the dry mixture and milk alternately to the wets. Pour in muffin cups and bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until done.
Ingredients: 1 can condensed milk, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tbsp butter
method: Mix all ingredients together in a pan and bring to a boil over low heat stirring constantly. Unlike in my last post where i suggested to cook the brigadeiro for 15 to 20 minutes, the number has dropped to 5, somehow. Remove from heat and stir briskly. Allow to cool for about five minutes and and then top and cupcakes or cake and top with sprinkles immediately.
The awestruck look on all the faces of my new little cousins' was enough to justify the entire day spent smothering brigadeiro on the top of seventy little cakes. Cupcakes aren't big yet in Brazil, in fact there are many who have never had a cupcake. Today we helped to fix that even if only for a few. When the kids crowded around the table H turned to me and said, now you've won the family. I replied, I thought i already did that? He, well now you have all the kids on your side.
After cake we all sat down to watch the U.S.'s last game in the world cup this year. Even though i was the only American in the room, there were no Ghana supporters. There's an American in the family now, therefore the U.S. is now ours too. The amazing thing with Brazilian families is that there is no such thing as familiar levels. It doesn't matter whether you're a first cousin, the son of a third cousin twice removed, or the foreign wife of a nephew, family is family, and here, family is everything.