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Five-Ingredient Beer Brigadeiros and The History of Sweetened Condensed Milk

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Ideas?  My mind is just brimming with them.  Check this one out… who doesn’t love brigadeiros?  Or beer?  So, Beer Brigadeiros (Brigadeiro de Cerveja), is what this girl is super happy to be sharing with you today — five-ingredient, quick-and-easy-to-make, beyond-scrumptious Brazilian fudge balls, great for any type of party!!! (wheww)  I can already see your loved one’s happy face when he/she opens a Valentine gift box filled with beer brigadeiros!! 🙂   As a plus, I’d also like to share with you a brief history of sweetened condensed milk — a marvelous creation unfairly snubbed by one particular group of chefs.  As you see, I am not one of them… Haters are not allowed here!!!!

Beer Brigadeiro -- Five-Ingredient, Quick, Scrumptious Fudge Balls ( Great for any type of party)!!!

Not only beer brigadeiros, but many other Brazilian and South American treats are made from sweetened condensed milk —  a sweetened, canned cow’s milk product that can last for years without refrigeration if unopened.  I personally am a big fan of it!!!!  In fact, most of the dessert recipes featured in this blog are proudly made from it (e.g. Camaféu de NozesPineapple Delight Frozen Trifle, Eggless Avocado MoussePrestígio Cheesecake, Crazy Gal Cake or Bolo Nega MalucaGluten-Free Creamy Corn Cake or Pamonha de Forno, etc. etc.) Please, do NOT confuse sweetened condensed milk with evaporated milk, a related product that is not sweetened and undergoes a more complex manufacturing process.

Condensed milk was created in 1820 in France as a solution to difficulties in storing milk for more than a few hours.  Before its invention, milk could be kept fresh for just a short while, and was only practically available in the immediate vicinity of a cow!!! Condensed milk only came to be produced on a large scale many years later, in the mid 19th century, by Gail Borden, Jr. in the United States.  It became popular after soldiers returning home from the American Civil War spread the word.  By the late 1860’s, condensed milk was a widespread success!  Factories for its manufacture opened in other countries, including Canada and Australia, as well as the world’s largest, Swiss company Nestlé, which commercialized the product in cans.

Thanks to Nestlé, condensed milk became a staple in Brazil, replacing fresh milk in the preparation of desserts and cake frostings, tarts, and “mousses.” It is also the main ingredient for caramel flan and brigadeiro, a unique treat that technically is neither a truffle nor a candy, but as beloved in Brazil as cupcakes are in America.  In addition, I grew up eating a simple treat: condensed milk drizzled on top of bananas, my favorite afternoon snack as a child.  Further, nowadays condensed milk is used to make one of my favorite drinks, Fruit Cocktail Drink (coquetel de frutas).  Plus, condensed milk can be transformed into dulce de leche (doce de leite), another favorite, by boiling canned sweetened condensed milk.

Beer Brigadeiro -- Five-Ingredient, Quick, Scrumptious Fudge Balls ( Great for any type of party)!!!

Sweetened condensed milk is also the preferred type of milk to add to coffee or tea in parts of Asia and Europe, among many other uses.  In some Asian countries, it is spread on toast as a jam substitute.  In the Caribbean, it is used to make Guinness punch. And in the US, it is a key ingredient in lemon ice box pie and in many key lime pie recipes….  And let’s not forget that it is one of the milks in tres leches cake.  Beyond its affordable cost, ease of transport, and preservability, it is also a great emulsifier that will not curdle in the presence of acid.

So how in the world did it come to be snubbed by a group of chefs from various countries?  Well, let me tell you: it is simply because it is not a “luxury” ingredient… Also, it comes in a can!  Shame on you, haters!!!  I can still remember one of my French culinary instructors who turned up his nose at sweetened condensed milk, and got into a heated argument with me and some other students from South America and Mexico about its widespread use in our desserts.  I think that these snobs forget (or maybe don’t even know or care) how important condensed milk was to preventing children’s deaths in the past, or to nourishing soldiers in time of war. Why are those chefs’ taste buds “right” and those of everyone else in the world “wrong”?

Beer Brigadeiro -- Five-Ingredient, Quick, Scrumptious Fudge Balls ( Great for any type of party)!!!

“A quem mente, cai-lhe um dente” goes the old proverb in Portuguese — ‘Whoever tells a lie loses a tooth.’  Well these hypocritical chefs are in danger of losing a tooth whenever they diss condensed milk but then turn around and eat caviar and other luxury ingredients that come in cans!  I tell you, I personally would rather consume sweetened condensed milk by the spoonful right out of the can than to eat frog legs from a ridiculously expensive restaurant.  Both my taste buds and my wallet would be happier!

Cooking or enjoying inexpensive foods in no way diminishes a chef’s skills… but hypocrisy does!  If they would just have a few beer brigadeiros (or other sweetened condensed milk treats), I bet their facial expression would change from a frown to a smile.  Great things don’t have to be expensive… They just need to be made correctly and to taste delicious.  In general, those are the things that bring us priceless memories and well-being.  Arrogance is what prevents many people from trying new things and enjoying life (or even worse, leads them to try to humiliate others or to dictate what they should eat).

Viva  sweetened condensed milk… Viva, (beer) brigadeiros!!!!

xx

Did you know that sweetened condensed milk can be made from scratch? 

For this, mix one measure of evaporated milk with one and a quarter measures of sugar in a saucepan; then, heat the mixture, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Let cool!  It can also be made by simmering whole milk until it is reduced by 60%, then adding sugar.

Beer Brigadeiro -- Five-Ingredient, Quick, Scrumptious Fudge Balls ( Great for any type of party)!!!

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated by Nestlé, Borden, or any other sweetened condensed milk manufacturer.  All the opinions expressed here are mine and come from my honest point of view.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Beer Brigadeiro (Brigadeiro de Cerveja)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Five-ingredient, quick-and-easy-to-make, beyond scrumptious Brazilian fudge balls (Great for any type of party)!!!
Author:
Recipe type: Sweets
Cuisine: Brazilian
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 1 (14-ounce or 396 g) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ⅓ cup your favorite baking cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup any golden Ale beer (low yeast and 4.2% - 4.8% ABV or alcohol content), not counting the foam**
  • Chocolate sprinkles or milk chocolate flakes
  • NOTE: Ale beers are preferred for this recipe because of their sweet, full bodied, and fruity taste. For a gluten-free version of this recipe, use a gluten-free beer.
Instructions
  1. In a nonstick, medium saucepan, stir together the sweetened condensed milk with the cocoa powder until obtaining a homogeneous mixture. Add both the butter and beer, and cook over medium heat (large burner), stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 7-8 minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional 10 minutes or until the bottom of the pan starts to show through the beer brigadeiro mixture. Transfer warm beer brigadeiro to a greased dish and let cool on a rack. If desired, it can be refrigerated for 15-20 minutes to make easier to roll into balls. Grease hands with butter, shape beer brigadeiro into balls (a tablespoon can be used as measurement), roll in the chocolate sprinkles, and place in bonbon cups.
  2. Note: All the beer alcohol content evaporates in the cooking process, so children can also consume beer brigadeiro.
Notes
The beer brigadeiros (not consumed on the same day) should be stored in a clean, airtight container in a single layer for up to 2 days ( at room temperature) or up to 4 or 5 days ( in the refrigerator) . If stored in the refrigerator, cover the layer of beer brigadeiros as well with parchment paper to prevent water droplets condensed by the low temperature fall on them. Remember: It is important that the container is odorless or will pass to the beer brigadeiros.

Beer brigadeiro…. beer brigadeiro or Brazilian fudge balls made from condensed milk, cocoa, and beer.  Oh, beer brigadeiro, beer brigadeiro!!! I love beer brigadeiro!!

Beer Brigadeiro -- Five-Ingredient, Quick, Scrumptious Fudge Balls ( Great for any type of party)!!!

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44 Responses to Five-Ingredient Beer Brigadeiros and The History of Sweetened Condensed Milk

  1. Little Cooking Tips 23 January, 2014 at 7:38 am #

    Great, easy recipe Denise!
    Also, your suggestion “Cooking or enjoying inexpensive foods in no way diminishes a chef’s skills… but hypocrisy does! ” is SO RIGHT!
    Besides, some of the tastiest stuff are easy to make, with simple ingredients, and are SO tasty that you can compare them with many gourmet dishes. For example, a good, cheap Greek Gyros with pitta (we use only pork meat in Greece for a classic Gyros) can be so amazingly delicious and filling, taking you to heaven with each bite 🙂 (You can totally tell we ‘ve been there) 🙂
    Thank you for sharing Denise, this goes into our must-try list for sure!

    • Denise Browning 23 January, 2014 at 9:19 am #

      Thanks so much, Panos and Mirella! I hope you make these little pieces of heaven for each other. I’d love to try the classic Gyros… I love pork meat! Wishing you a marvelous day!!!!!

  2. Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com 23 January, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    These fudge balls look so decadent!
    My parents used to feed me condensed milk and bread when I was a wee one in Sri Lanka, then when we moved to Abu Dhabi, my dad and I used to get tea from a little tea shop owned by a chap from India and he made his tea with condensed milk stirred in, then he would use two cups and pour this tea and condensed milk mixture back and forth between the two cups till a foam formed – Denise, to date, that was some of the best tea I have ever had!
    Thanks for the history on condensed milk – I still use it from time to time – just used it in banana nut pancakes 🙂

    • Denise Browning 23 January, 2014 at 9:24 am #

      Shashi: It is great to hear from many, many people from different countries how much they appreciate sweetened condensed milk and use it in different ways. I am with you! I tasted in chai tea and absolutely loved it. I cannot mention one food or drink made from it that I have not enjoyed a lot. Everything is better with it!!!!

    • Denise Browning 23 January, 2014 at 10:24 am #

      Thanks, Abbe! Everything is better with condensed milk indeed!

  3. Roberta Guariglia 23 January, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Nao vai acucar nessa receita, pq em ingles o chocolate e’ cacau em po’ ne’?

    • Denise Browning 23 January, 2014 at 10:24 am #

      Roberta: Exato! Chocolate em pó ou cacau em pó em inglês é o cocoa powder. Para que o brigadeiro fique com a consistência correta precisa ser um apropriado para baking (exemplo: Hershey’s unsweetened or natural cocoa powder, o qual não contém açúcar). Os que contém açucar aqui nos EUA só serve mesmo pra fazer chocolate quente (ou seja, pra dissolver no leite).

  4. Daniela 23 January, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    In Peru there is a huge variety of sweets based on sweet, condensed milk. Yours look so tempting, Denise and I love the presentation too!

    • Denise Browning 23 January, 2014 at 10:27 am #

      Thanks so much, Daniela! Condensed milk is an ingredient loved for most of the world.

  5. Ash-foodfashionparty 23 January, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    That is a history of condensed milk I did not know and so glad to read it. These choclatey ball, are simply delicious looking, could not stop stop eating. What a perfect treat for valentine. Thanks for sharing.
    I made condensed milk bread toast today for breakfast and it is one of my kids favorite. My little one eats it by spoonfuls.
    I love your desserts, of course pinning this.

  6. Sugar et al 23 January, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    I know I will always find amazing things in this space. Today, is no different. I am a huge fan of sweetened condensed milk. I notice many avoiding it assuming it is rich and calorific but isn’t that what most of the great stuff in the world is made up of. It was great to gather more information about condensed milk.
    These are so pretty and perfect for Valentine’s day. And so simple. I am determined to show it to my husband and ask him to make them for me:-)

    • Denise Browning 23 January, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

      I hope you both enjoy these a lot…Thanks so much for always being so kind, Sonali!

  7. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com 23 January, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    Mmm… as a Malaysian, there’s no way we can survive without condensed milk. It’s just so divine. We have it in coffee, tea and on toasts!!

  8. Liz 23 January, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    What a great recipe for making sweet and condensed milk! And your fudge balls look amazing!

  9. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef 23 January, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    These look delightful! I agree about food snobs. I met one earlier this year at the Noosa Food and Wine Festival and he went on about food bloggers ‘putting family dinners on the net as if anyone cared.’

    I remarked that his web rankings were well below some food bloggers and how could he explain their popularity and his lack of it.

    He was right and the world was wrong. What a wanker!

    • Denise Browning 24 January, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      Thanks, Maureen!!!! Food snobs are everywhere and they feel entitled of the truth. I have met many at my culinary school and they loved to humiliate others. How I hate this type of attitude…

  10. Deb 23 January, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    Bravo for expressing your very valid opinion! I don’t care for frog’s legs, rabbit or snails! We’ll be enjoying the decadent fudge balls while all the “haters” will be missing a great dessert!

    • Denise Browning 24 January, 2014 at 10:11 am #

      You are my type of gal, Deb! I also don’t care about all these freaky ” luxury” foods. I rather have something simple and delicious like these brigadeiros… 🙂

  11. Coffee and Crumpets 23 January, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    I remember having this conversation when you came to see me in CO last summer 🙂 I totally agree with you, inexpensive things can be just as good.

  12. francesca 24 January, 2014 at 2:21 am #

    Love a lot. My Brazilian colleague just brought these in for her birthday, and I ate them until I was sick 🙂 They are delicious, and yours look lovely 🙂

    • Denise Browning 24 January, 2014 at 10:09 am #

      Thanks a lot, Francesca! I am happy to know that you enjoy brigadeiros. The difference is these are not only made from chocolate but also beer. 🙂

  13. Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine 24 January, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    I love your spirit Denise! And I also love sweetened condensed milk and always have a can on my shelf (so we can still be friends). My go-to cheese cake recipe has scm and it’s amazing! These fudge balls look so cream and rich – I would never in a million years have thought they would contain beer. That’s what’s so fun about your recipes, always unique, delicious and fun!

    • Denise Browning 24 January, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      Thanks so much, Chris! Just like you, I always have one or two cans of scm in my pantry!!!! I hope you try this simple recipe one of these days… Happy weekend!!!!

  14. Consuelo @ Honey & Figs 24 January, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    What a lovely culinary lesson, I loved to know more about sweetened condensed milk! It’s such a nice ingredient and it works so well in so many desserts indeed!
    These brigadeiros look so fudgy and delish that they’re making my mouth water. And the beer addition sounds amazing! I’ll have to try!
    Have a wonderful weekend! xxx

    • Denise Browning 24 January, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      Thanks a lot, Consuelo…Wishing you a very happy weekend! xx

  15. Amira 26 January, 2014 at 1:35 am #

    I absolutely love sweetened condensed milk since childhood. I remember sneaking after dinner and eating it with a spoon directly from the can :). Thanks for sharing those lovely treats.

    • Denise Browning 26 January, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

      I am so happy to know that you would eat spoonfuls of condensed milk out of the can, Amira! I used to do the same…and sometimes I still do. 🙂

  16. Raymund 28 January, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    That looks like a really nice sweet treat! I am really loving your recipes

  17. Mi Vida en un Dulce 31 January, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    You are right, condensed milk is very popular here in Peru too. Many of our desserts are made based on it, is so versatile.
    And I didn’t imagine to make brigadeiros with beer, I used to make some with Pisco or Ron.

  18. Gintare @Gourmantine 3 February, 2014 at 6:19 am #

    How did I miss this before?! I grew up eating condensed milk, I still remember my mom making cakes with it and layering waffles and all sorts of things, and if there was an opened can in sight, I’d finish it off one spoonful at at time 🙂
    These treats are incredible, adding beer is just beyond brilliant!

    • Denise Browning 3 February, 2014 at 7:11 am #

      Thanks a lot, Gintare! I am the same way…I could eat a entire can by spoonfuls. 🙂

  19. Sonia 26 July, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    Our you are to be congratulated!
    This this is a real step by step tutorial very good incredible gourmet brigadiers!

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