The History of Brazil’s Favorite Sweet – The Brigadeiro

Sofia Martins wrote . . . . . .

No children’s birthday party in Brazil is complete without brigadeiro—a fudgy combination of sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter that looks like a truffle and tastes like chocolate caramel. But brigadeiros are not just for kids—they’re everywhere in Brazil: baby showers, weddings, and corner bodegas. There are even gourmet brigadeiro shops dedicated to selling the dessert by the jarful. Brigadeiro is as Brazilian as Carnival. But the candy’s path to become a national symbol has been short and strange, and the story is as much about Brazil’s turbulent political history as it is about sugar.

The history of brigadeiro starts with sweetened condensed milk. Originally developed in 1866 as a method for preserving dairy, then marketed as a war ration, sweetened condensed milk arrived in Brazil around the turn of the century. The Nestlé Milkmaid found a receptive market in a country that has been sugar-crazed since it became one of the largest sugar producers in the world in the sixteenth century. Dairy was also a large part of Brazil’s the agricultural industry and the national diet. Leite Moca—“milk with the young woman” as Milkmaid came to be known—conveniently combined both of these Brazilian favorites, and in 1921 Nestlé built a factory in Brazil to produce sweetened condensed milk closer to a major market.

Milk in Brazil, however, was not just a foodstuff. It was political power. Since 1889, when Brazil transitioned from a monarchy to a federal republic, the government had been controlled by what was called “café com leite” politics, literally “coffee with milk” political alliance. Coffee and dairy were the primary commodities produced in the two economically and politically dominant states. Vast coffee plantations covered São Paolo, while dairy reigned supreme in Minas Gerais. These states joined forces to control and corrupt the newly established federal government.

It was opposition to the “coffee with milk” coalition that brought the candy’s namesake to fame. In 1922, a group of young low-ranking military officers tired of the electoral monopoly of the corrupt ruling coalition launched a series of revolts in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Mato Grosso. The most important military installation they captured was the recently inaugurated Copacabana Fort in Rio de Janeiro, then the capital. The revolt fell apart quickly, and most of the renegade officers abandoned the fort just one day after its capture. Only eleven remained for a suicidal standoff on the beach. One of these eleven soldiers was Eduardo Gomes, the man who would go on to inspire the brigadeiro.

Gomes was then a young unknown military officer. But the battle—in which he was seriously injured—made him famous. Gomes spent the years following the Copacabana revolt in and out of jail, participating in uprisings around the country, all the while remaining active in the military. In 1941, he was promoted to “brigadeiro”—“brigadier” in Portuguese. During World War II he acted as the military liaison to the United States even as he opposed President Getúlio Vargas’s dictatorial government.

In 1945, Gomes finally got a chance to mount his resistance. Vargas’s government ended and new presidential elections were scheduled for December. Gomes founded the National Democratic Union and made himself its presidential candidate. Gomes’ capitalized on his prominent military position, calling himself “The Brigadier,” in Portuguese: “O Brigadeiro.” 1945 was also the first time women could vote in a presidential election, and Gomes actively tried to galvanize this new electoral block, perhaps in the most sexist way possible: his campaign slogan was “Vote for the Brigadier. He is good-looking and single.”

It worked, though. Women where a major source of support, and these same women created the brigadeiro candy to help Gomes’ campaign, selling the confection to raise money. While Gomes’s campaign ended in defeat, the sweet did manage to capture the sugar-loving country.

Over the next decades, brigadeiro’s popularity grew, quickly becoming the country’s unofficial dessert. Served in small paper cups and decorated with sprinkles, brigadeiro looks like, and is, a kid’s snack. But at the same time the chocolate linked to the ever-fraught story of democracy in Brazil.

Source: Lucky Peach

French-style Sweet Omelet Souffle


1-1/4 cups fresh mixed berries, such as raspberries, red currants, or blueberries
2 teaspoons raspberry preserves
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 egg yolk
1-1/2 tablespoons superfine sugar, plus an extra 2 teaspoons (or the same quantity of granulated sugar processed in a food processor for 1 minute)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
2 egg whites
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


  1. Put the berries and preserves into a saucepan and cook over medium heat for I minute, or until the berries start to puff up. Remove from the heat and put aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the surface of the water does not touch the bowl.
  3. Put the egg yolk, the 2 teaspoons of superfine sugar, and the vanilla into a bowl and mix together, then stir in the chocolate.
  4. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, adding the remaining superfine sugar a little at a time. Fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate to loosen the mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.
  5. Melt the butter in a small 6-1/2-inch diameter flameproof nonstick skillet over medium heat, and meanwhile preheat the broiler to medium-high. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the skillet, making sure it is an even layer, and cook for 2-3 minutes, then place under the broiler for 1 minute, or until set, making sure it does not burn.
  6. Spoon the berry mixture over one half of the omelet. Fold the omelet over to enclose the filling, then dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.


Use egg whites at room temperature to get the most volume when whisking.

Makes 1 serving.

Source: Chocolat

In Pictures: Easter Sweets

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Chocolate Mousse Cake

Joy of Easter Cake

Fruit Pudding

These 5 Life Skills Can Boost Your Odds of Well-Being

Emotional stability, determination, control, optimism and conscientiousness: all important “life skills” that can raise your prospects for a happy, healthy life.

That’s the finding from a new study of more than 8,000 people, aged 52 and older, in the United Kingdom. Researchers found a link between those five life skills and better health, fewer chronic diseases, less depression, less social isolation, and greater financial stability.

“No single attribute was more important than others. Rather, the effects depended on the accumulation of life skills,” study co-leader Andrew Steptoe, a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, said in a university news release.

“There is research on individual factors — such as conscientiousness and optimism in adults — but the combination of these life skills has not been studied very much before,” Steptoe said.

Nearly one-quarter of people with the fewest of those five skills reported depressive symptoms, the study found. But just 3 percent of people with four or five of the life skills had symptoms of depression.

Almost half of those with the fewest skills said they had high levels of loneliness. Meanwhile, just 11 percent of those with four or five of the life skills said they had high levels of loneliness, the findings showed.

Slightly more than one-third of those with the least life skills said they had poor to fair health, compared with just 6 percent of people with four or five of the skills, according to the report.

“We were surprised by the range of processes — economic, social, psychological, biological, and health and disability related — that seem to be related to these life skills. Our research suggests that fostering and maintaining these skills in adult life may be relevant to health and well-being at older ages,” Steptoe concluded.

The researchers noted that their study wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study was published April 10 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: HealthDay

Multivitamins May Not Help Men’s Hearts, Even When Diet is Poor

Millions of American men pop a multivitamin each day, but new research shows the pills won’t help the heart — even if a man’s nutrition is lacking.

“Many had thought that men with ‘poor’ nutritional status at baseline may benefit more from long-term multivitamin use on cardiovascular outcomes; however, we did not see any evidence for this in our recent analysis,” study author Howard Sesso, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in a hospital news release.

According to background information from the researchers, more than half of older Americans take a multivitamin each day. However, many prior studies have shown little evidence of any health benefit.

In the new research, Sesso and his colleagues tracked data from an ongoing study of more than 14,000 U.S. male doctors over the age of 50. A prior look at this data had found that taking multivitamins did not reduce the men’s risk of heart disease over 11 years of follow-up.

But would the same be true for men who had relatively poor diets, perhaps lacking in certain nutrients?

According to the new report, the results were the same — daily use of multivitamins did not reduce the risk of heart disease, even in this more nutritionally challenged subset.

Two experts — one a cardiologist, one a nutritionist — had somewhat differing views on the findings, however.

“This study, like previous studies, suggests that multivitamin use does not reduce risk of heart disease — even in men with poor nutrition,” said Dr. Kevin Marzo. He’s chief of cardiology at NYU Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

Marzo believes too many Americans view multivitamins as a “quick fix” to ward off health woes.

“Prevention strategies for reducing heart disease risk should focus not on dietary supplements but rather on regular exercise and a healthy diet rich in vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats,” he said.

Stephanie Schiff, a registered dietitian at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y., took a different view.

“The best way to get nutrients is from whole foods, but sometimes it’s beneficial to take a multivitamin to help prevent nutritional shortfalls,” she said.

And Schiff believes that — at least for women — a lack of nutrients may contribute to heart risks, so outcomes might be different for females.

For example, she said, “some studies indicate that a vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.”

But so far, studies involving women and multivitamins have had mixed results, Schiff added, and more research might still be needed.

“Perhaps some kind of nutritional shortfall may be responsible for an increased risk of heart disease in women,” she said. “These studies don’t necessarily prove cause and effect, but there may be some kind of correlation. The best way to find out would be for more randomized clinical trials with large sample sizes to be conducted.”

Sesso agreed. “Given the continued high prevalence of multivitamin use in the U.S., it remains critical for us to understand its role on nutritional status and other long-term health outcomes through clinical trials,” he said.

A group representing supplement manufacturers took issue with the study.

“The results of this study are not necessarily generalizable to the whole population,” said Duffy MacKay, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). “The study participants were male physicians who on average had a healthier diet than the general U.S. population, which could be why the researchers did not find any additional benefit from a nutritional intervention.”

The study received funding from the CRN Foundation, MacKay noted.

“We strongly encourage further research to determine additional value of the multivitamin and that of other individual nutrients,” he added. “For consumers, the key takeaway of this study is that the multivitamin is not a panacea, but at the very least, given the nutrient shortfalls in our population, it can reliably fill nutrient gaps.”

MacKay also recommends that consumers “open up a dialogue” with their physicians about the use of multivitamins or other supplements.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

Source: HealthDay

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