by Eva Glettner
Even though she has spent many years in Los Angeles, Sabrina Pires Kahn's Brazilian roots are deeper than just her Portuguese-tinged English. In fact, Pires Kahn is on a mission to bring brigadeiros—Brazil’s most loved confections—to the masses here in the States, through Simply Brigadeiro: a company born out of her prowess in the kitchen and an ode to her motherland.
Pires Kahn tells CH, "Brigs are part of who I am. I am keeping my culture alive in a way so I don’t ever forget where I came from. They were created in Brazil with all its glory and taste. It’s like Bossa Nova, soccer, samba, caipirinha and carnival." She distinctly remembers her fourth birthday in Tramandai, a small beach town in her home state. Everyone was gathered around the kitchen while her mother and grandmother made cachorro quente and brigadeiros; Pires Kahn remembers getting to lick the spoon.
Brigadeiros are named for Brazilian politician and military figure Brigadier Eduardo Gomes. At its core, it’s a candy traditionally made with sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder. The concoction is then mixed on the stove, which gives it a malleable texture. Using butter added by hand, the result is slightly similar to a chocolate truffle. While remaining somewhat true to the original sweet treat, Pires Kahn diversifies her brigadeiros by swapping out cocoa powder for a multitude of flavors including strawberry and chipotle. Each bite-sized brigadeiro is also decorated meticulously, making it a treat for the eyes too.
While there is a slight challenge bringing something foreign to the mainstream, Pires Kahn says that once people try her Brazilian sweets there's no turning back. “They ask me, 'What is it? Is it a truffle? A caramel? A tootsie roll? Dulce de leche?' I say it is a cross between all of them but still completely its own. They always come back for more," she says. Her secret is simple; Simply Brigadeiro produces small batches with fresh, organic ingredients. Pires Kahn handcrafts no more than 25 in a session and she also swears by a red Dansk steel enamel-coated pot. Lastly, it is all in the touch. Pires Kahn's technique (which is all "about the hands" and not rushing) was passed down from her grandmothers in Brazil.
Simply Brigadeiro goods are shipped overnight to ensure their freshness upon delivery; they're never refrigerated or frozen. A batch can be ordered online in a variety of flavors.
Images courtesy of Karina Pires