About 8 years ago I found myself in a food writing course at The Institute of Culinary Education.
Sitting a few desks down was a poised, elegant dark haired beauty with a face that danced between serious determination and pure joy.
She mentioned she was writing a cookbook and of course this intrigued me. I introduced myself to Leticia Moreinos Schwartz that day. We found we had much in common and met for coffee.
After hours of chatting about NY restaurant kitchens, Judaism, partnership, career, family, and of course her passion for her country, its culture and food, I know I was in the presence of a special kind of person.
Since then, the native Rio born Brazilian Chef has made countless TV appearances, published two cookbooks, The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio De Janiero: A Cookbook and won praise and accolades from The New York Times, Washington Post, and Fine Cooking to name a few.
For more on Leticia, visit www.chefleticia.com!
Serving Size: Makes about 45 balls
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
3 oz (90 g) semi-sweet chocolate (around 60% cocoa solids), chopped
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup chocolate sprinkles
Leticia's Pudim de Leite
For the Caramel:
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
For the flan:
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Equipment: Round cake mold, 8 inches wide and 2 inches deep (or 4 individual ramekins)
Leticia's Pudim de Leite
Place the sugar and water in a clean heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook the sugar over high heat without stirring, until it turns into an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes.
Pour the caramel into the cake mold and swirl it around making sure the caramel evenly covers the whole bottom of the pan. You don’t want to have any concentrated lumps of caramel in any part of the pan. Be advised that the caramel will continue to cook once it’s off the heat, so work fast. Set the pan aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F.
Mix all the ingredients for the flan in a blender or (ideally) a food processor, until smooth.
Carefully and slowly pour it into the prepared caramel pan. Transfer the caramel pan to a large roasting pan and fill it with warm water so that it comes half ways up the sides of the pan. Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the center of the oven and bake until the custard is set, about 45 to 55 minutes.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Transfer the custard pan to a wire rack. Let it cool at room temperature then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. It’s important to invert the flan only when it is chilled completely, otherwise it might break.
When ready to serve, run a smooth knife around the inside of the cake pan. Place a large rimmed serving platter on top of the cake pan, and holding the pans together with both hands, quickly invert the flan onto the platter. Hold the pans so for at least 1 minute to make sure all the juices of the caramel fall onto the platter.
In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, place the condensed milk, butter, heavy cream, and corn syrup, and bring to a boil over medium heat.
When the mixture starts to bubble, add the chocolate and cocoa powder; whisk well, making sure there are no pockets of cocoa powder.
Reduce the heat to low, and cook, whisking constantly, until it reaches the consistency of a dense fudgy batter, about 8 to10 minutes. You want the mixture to bubble like lava towards the end, so it’s important to use low heat or the sides of the pan will burn the fudge. If you undercook, the brigadeiro will be too soft and may not hold its shape; if you overcook it, it will be chewy, more like a caramel candy. You know it is done when you swirl the pan around and the whole mixture slides as one soft piece, leaving a thick burnt residue on the bottom of the pan.
Slide the mixture into a bowl. Don’t scrape the pan—you don’t want to integrate any of the burned batter that stayed on the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture cool at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
Using a teaspoon, scoop the mixture and roll each into a little ball about ¾-inch in diameter (about the size of a chocolate truffle).
Place the chocolate sprinkles in a shallow bowl. Pass 4 to 6 brigadeiros at a time through the sprinkles, making sure it sticks and covers the entire outside surface. Repeat with all brigadeiros.
Reserve your brigadeiros in a plastic container covered with a tight lid at room temperature for 2 days or up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Make sure to eat them at room temperature.