Happy Easter/Feliz Pascoa!!!

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Easter, or Pascoa in Brazil, is a time for celebration. Of course, coming before it is Good Friday, a quiet day for reflection in Brazil. Religion is part of everyday life in Brazil (nearly 90% are christian), and so Good Friday has many norms. Drinking and partying are both inappropriate to do on the Friday, and you’ll probably get weird looks for doing so. Many families actually eat fish the entire weekend. But Holy Saturday can be treated much more like a normal Saturday, and there aren’t the prohibitions that exist for Good Friday. Many families do keep at least Easter Sunday to be like the sabbath commonly was followed in Canada. No television, no internet, and the time should be spent visiting with relatives. But, no matter the family, Easter is a big day for celebration.

Churches, that have the Crucifixes covered for Lent, reveal the imagery of Jesus. The chocolate eggs are often elaborate, and filled with brigadeiro and other chocolate – they cost a pretty penny to boot. The Easter Bunny, however, is not a common character associated with the holiday in Brazil – probably, because by keeping closer to the religious aspects, there isn’t as much room for secular aspects that exist in Canada.

I can’t say that Easter is much different in Brazil than Canada, I think its because Easter in Brazil just seems bigger than in Canada. But, given that the holiday is a defining part of Christianity, you would find very similar celebrations in any christian church or family in Canada. And, most of the differences are just in the degree of commitment to the holiday. The cultural aspects tend to drift away, because so many religious traditions are the same across the continents.

If you are in Brazil and feeling homesick, the holidays can sometimes still feel just like home.

Happy Easter and Feliz Pacoa to all my readers!

Brigadeiro

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Brigadeiro is one of the preeminent desserts in Brazil. Every party, from kids birthdays to weddings, is expected to have a large supply of brigadeiro and other docinhos (sweets). Brigadeiro is incredibly simple to make, but can then be used in many different ways. My personal favourite is to put it on top of ice cream as a topping, but, even though I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, it is not too sweet to even be eaten on its own. I think that the most common way of eating it, as any search online will inevitably show you, is in mouthwatering cup-cake like balls of brigadeiro wrapped in sprinkles.

When I first saw it, I was sure I had eaten it before as a child, but despite all the wonderful reactions evoked when I took my first bite, nostalgia was not one of them. I didn’t recognize the smell or taste, despite the fact that smell is strongly linked to memory.  I have thus concluded that I did not ever have brigadeiro before – given how similar it can look to other desserts, I think it is more likely just a common way of presenting desserts.

If you live in Toronto, there is actually even a brigadeiro place where you can try it out, Mary’s Brigadeiro. However, if you are feeling more adventurous and want to try your hand at making it yourself, as I mentioned, it’s very simple:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 4-7 table Spoons of Chocolate Powder (optional – the more you add, the more chocolate flavour the Black Brigadeiro will have, White Brigadeiro has no chocolate)
  • 1-2 tea spoons of butter
  • Toppings (see below)

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Toppings

Common choices include Chocolate sprinkles, powdered milk, dehydrated cocunut, or granulated sugar.  Please note that sugar does tend to be quite sweet, and the brigadeiro will not keep as long.

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Directions

1. Combine the condensed milk, chocolate power, and butter in one pot on medium heat.

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2. Stir the ingredients constantly until the mixture stops sticking to the bottom of the pot.

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3. Pour the ingredients out onto a large plate or tray (be careful, it will be hot)
4. Wait for a little bit for it to cool to room temperature.
5. Put a bit of butter on your hands (to help you roll)
6. Using a tea spoon, scoop a small amount of the mixture, and roll into a ball.

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7. Have a small bowl (or mug) filled with sprinkles, dehydrated coconut, powdered milk, or sugar. Drop the rolled brigadeiro inside and shake the bowl to cover the brigadeiro in the topping of your choice.

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8. Plate and serve.

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Makes 30-50 brigadeiro (depending on the size you roll them).