On the Chocolate Trail

Election 2016: Winning Fudge Brigadeiros

The candidate’s wife and women supporters made these Brazilian chocolate fudge truffles to win him the campaign. He loved them. She made them. Post World War II food shortages in Brazil meant a lack of sweets. Fortunately, cocoa powder and condensed milk were available and combined to create the nationally beloved bonbons named brigadeiros (Portuguese). Named for the military rank of brigadier, a high ranking officer, they came to be associated particularly with presidential candidate, Eduard Gomes, in the 1946 election in Brazil. His women fans sold them to fund raise for his campaign. As the slogan went, “Vote for the handsome and singular brigadier.” People have invited each other to their homes for decades to eat the “treat of the brigadier.”

Mariana Vieira, owner of Brigadeiros Bakery in Soho, New York, says that her fanciful, artisan brigadeiros recall her childhood in a small town outside of Sao Paolo. Parties throughout Brazil featured these simple, one-tool confections. Often devoured right out of the pot and sometimes called, the “spoon brigade,” Mariana advises letting them sit overnight. Very much a home dessert, brigadeiros have more recently become a specialty store item. They are ubiquitous at birthday parties, served following the cake.

In Brazil chocolate is the basic and most authentic brigadeiro flavor, the primary ingredient being the local Nescau cocoa powder. In New York, culinary-school trained Mariana has added quality chocolate to enhance the deepness of the flavor. There might also be some coconut or some caramel in the old country. Her Brigadeiros Bakery has developed new flavors, including strawberries and cream, rosewater and sesame caramelized coconut.


When Mariana first immigrated to the States about eight years ago, she catered dinner parties and always included brigadeiros. Whether cooking from her home kitchen or working in a restaurant or launching her Soho shoppe in 2014, brigadeiros have been her signature dessert. She says, “I feel lucky to educate customers about the Brazilian palate.” Although candidate Gomes lost the election, the brigadeiros have been a winning treat for decades.

Maybe brigadeiros will even sweeten this 2016 election.

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One thought on “Election 2016: Winning Fudge Brigadeiros”

  1. Drew Barkley says:

    I just finished reading your book and enjoyed the weaving of history, culture, religion and (of course) chocolate. In support of the concept of Jews and chocolate, I thought I would let you know that my wife, Jan, and I started a small chocolate food business a year ago. It is called The Giveback Kitchen. Jan and I both have synagogue Executive Director experience. We produce chocolate fudge sauces and a new caramel sauce, and donate 3% of all sales to Make-A-Wish Illinois. No corn syrup or preservatives, just natural yummy chocolate sauce to warm and pour over ice cream or to eat out of the jar. I personally make the product and together we pour it into jars. We try to combine guilty pleasure and indulgence with social responsibility and food ethics. Our cocoa comes from Blommer, who is mentioned in your book under A Consumer’s Guide to Buying Ethically Produced Chocolate. I’m happy to send you a jar if you wish.
    Thank you for writing your book.
    Drew Barkley

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On the Chocolate Trail

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