Desserts in the Americas

In this article, we will exchange cultural recipes between Brazil and the U.S, then we will review each other’s recipes, garnished with the history of each dessert and its interesting origins. Prior to this collaboration, we haven’t tried each other’s recipes, so this will be a new experience for us both. Feel free to try the recipes and ultimately enjoy this cross-cultural culinary article! The two desserts we will review are Brigadeiro and chocolate chip cookies.

Brigadeiro – A popular traditional Brazilian chocolate dessert (fudge balls)

Brigadeiro is a well known classic chocolate delight across Brazil. Brigadeiro is also known as Negrinho in the southern portion of Brazil. Its simplicity allows for a sweet and chocolatey treat for any occasion. According to Hayane, you can make the mixture at any time. If you don’t have the time for molding the mixture into balls and cultivating a cute presentation (like for a birthday party), you can simply eat the mixture, with a spoon, alone (‘brigadeiro de colher’).  Initially observing the images of Brigadeiro, I thought the recipe would be difficult as it was new and had a unique appearance. However, to my surprise, the recipe only consisted of cocoa powder, butter, chocolate sprinkles, and condensed milk. Seemingly, anyone can make it and most of these items may already be stowed somewhere at home.

Here is a recipe that Hayane sent me: brigadeiros

One component that stuck out the most was the specific direction where I had to stir the mixture continuously for 15-20 minutes, or until the texture was thick enough. I watched a video to see what the consistency should be like before attempting the recipe, and I tried to emulate the consistency based on what I watched and read. As a first attempt, for the most part, the texture was firm and mostly adhered together for most of the pieces. However, for a small portion of the mixture it was a bit sticky, which most likely meant that I needed to stir the hot mixture for slightly longer, as well as cool the mixture longer which I will for sure do the next time I make it. (I definitely will make it again because it was truly delectable!) For presentation purposes, next time, I may buy baking liners to insert the brigadeiro into them.

Here is a photo of one of the Brigadeiro I made:  

My favorite part besides eating the Brigadeiro of course, was rolling the mixture into little balls. It was fun dipping them into the sprinkles.

Taste test: As I was cooling the mixture, I scooped some extra leftover mixture with a spoon and allowed my younger brother, who is a picky eater, to try it. He approved of it immediately, with a smile and a thumbs up, then he disappeared, so the holy Brigadeiro spirit must have unfortunately vaporized him. All attempted jokes aside, Brigadeiro is delicious! My parents enjoyed it as well.

When I first tried brigadeiro: It tasted sweet and chocolatey with hints of caramel-like notes from the velvety and creamy condensed milk. The chocolate sprinkles added for a nice little crunch and texture. All of it collectively, made for a pleasant truffle-like bite.  The next time I make Brigadeiro, I will try to customize it more and try the coconut variation (Beijinho) meaning ‘Brazilian little kiss’  that Hayane had suggested. Overall, I enjoyed experimenting with this recipe and learning about the apparently immense room allowed for creativity in this recipe as well. Over the years there have been many variations and twists to the classic recipe and brigadeiro can be customized to your satisfaction. 

So even if you don’t enjoy chocolate, which is most likely a small minority of you, you may try something else. Or if you want to refresh your chocolatey palate with something, else there are many options.

Brigadeiro history: To further appreciate this classic Brazilian treat, let’s delve into the Brigadeiro and its origins. The exact origins aren’t known, however one theory was that Brigadeiro was created by the confectioner Heloísa Nabuco de Oliveira, in honor of air marshall Eduardo Gomes, especially to promote his presidential candidacy both in 1945 and 1950. Eduardo Gomes was also called Brigadeiro (brigadier) informally, which was his preferred colloquial name.  

He played a significant role in Brazil’s history. Brigadeiro was born in Petrópolis, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. At the time, circa post-WWI, Tenetism was a political-military movement led by young and low-rank Brazilian officers, who led revolts against the agrarian oligarchical political structures (coffee with milk politics), ultimately contributing to the Brazilian revolution of 1930 against the Old Republic. This was a time when coffee oligarchs controlled the government because manufacturing increased, so political machines allowed for corruption. These officers were obviously upset with the economical situation and power imbalance. Some mentionable and noteworthy events of Brigadeiro’s contributions,   were the revolution of the lieutenants of 1922, where he refused to fight against the population. Then in the 1930s, he commanded and contributed to the creation of the later called National Air Mail. 

The Brigadeiro treat was created post WWII, at the time there was a milk shortage, so condensed milk served as a substitute, and it was delicious and still is today. 

Chocolate chip cookies – A classic and delicious American snack.

28,160 Chocolate Chip Cookie Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images -  iStock

Chocolate chip cookies are a famous recipe that has overcome the United States borders and reach many places through the globe, as it is made in many different countries. This simple but appetizing food is relatively easy to bake: about 15 minutes in the oven and it is ready. Also, it is good to eat any time, since it has a nice consistency and is perfectly bite-sized, being useful to consume as a dessert or as a snack. The ingredients, such as the brown and granulated sugar, butter, flour and baking soda, are found effortlessly in any market, and I even already had some of them at my house.

Here is a recipe that Michaela sent me: chocolate chip cookies 

Although I was not able to find chocolate chips, the recipe said that chocolate chunks were preferable to use in it, so in general the ingredients for the cookie were quick to obtain in the market. The mixture was also quite easy to make, I only had to whisk it for a few minutes and, even though it was not baked, the dough already looked very appetizing.  I’ve never baked cookies before, so, of course, it was the hardest (and most disastrous) part: they grew too much and were almost like a thin cake. Happily, this issue is not something that happened only to me: Michaela had had this same problem when she tried to bake chocolate chip cookies for the first time, therefore I felt much more confident with my final result. At least it did not take too much time in the oven: about 15 minutes later the cookies were ready to be served. I had to shape them with a knife, since they were funded together, but I was quite satisfied with it in the end. The next time I’ll make them, I’ll try to add more chocolate chunks (they were not as apparent as I wanted, visually) and I’ll put less dough in the form, so the cookies can have more space to grow and look much better.

Here is a picture of my not-so-good-looking chocolate chip cookie:

Taste test: Even though I had already eaten industrialized cookies before, nothing compares to proving something home-made: it is incomparably more satisfying and better in flavor. I tasted a bit of the uncooked dough before putting it in the oven (although I’m aware that is not recommended at all, healthy-wise) and its savor was heavenly comforting. While it bakes, the smell fills the whole house and it’s very delightful. After it was already baked, the looks were not the best, however the taste made up for the visual mess. I let my family taste it first and, surprisingly, all of them loved it, especially my mother. When I ate it, I really enjoyed it, principally because of how the brown sugar and the vanilla popped out and the chocolate pieces complemented it nicely. The chocolate chip cookie is sweet, but not too much, which makes you want to eat more of it, so I’ll probably have to make it again soon.

Ruth Graves Wakefield - Wikipedia

Chocolate chip cookies history: Although some variations of the cookies have already been made for centuries, the chocolate chip cookie as we know today is a modern invention. In the 17th Century, Europeans used to test the temperature of the oven before setting the cake in it by putting a bit of the dough there, so from there comes the name “cookie”: the dutch word koekje, that means “little cake”. But the origin of the chocolate chip cookies is quite recent: it was created by Ruth Graves Wakefield around the late 1920’s. It’s not sure if she made it by accident or if she knew exactly what she was doing, but there are these two versions of the story. One of the versions says that Ruth Wakefield, who owned an inn in Massachusetts, unintentionally invented the chocolate chip cookies when she ran out of chocolate powder for her recipe and tried to replace it with bittersweet chocolate chunks, but it did not melt and incorporate in the dough as it was expected. The other version is that Ruth tried to mix the chocolate chunks in the dough on purpose as a new recipe and to surprise her clients. Either way, what she called the “Toll House Crunch Cookies” became a huge success among her clients and expanded to the whole U.S., and now it’s famous world-wide.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading about these culinary transcontinental desserts as well as their unique histories. If you ever have the time to create and indulge in these sweet and delightful treats, we will certainly be pleased. Bom apetite! Enjoy!

Michaela

PUYALLUP / USA

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