Magic sparkle balls? Sweet Kiss’s brigadeiros are easy to devour, hard to describe

Trying to describe a brigadeiro is no easy task. The confection sounds simple: cocoa powder, butter, sweetened condensed milk. But the traditional Brazilian truffles, which have a texture similar to that of dense fudge, deliver a creamy richness that’s memorably complex. They’re unlike any other chocolate I’ve eaten.

When I ask Jessica Antunes, who owns Sweet Kiss Brigadeiro with her mother, Regina, for some help in the adjective department, she’s at a loss for words, too. But she knows what I mean.

“When they first look at it, they don’t know what it is,” she says. “But as soon as they try it … the facial expression says it all.”

Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Jessica moved to Kansas City in 1996, after her sister started playing basketball for Penn Valley Community College. A couple of years later, her parents sold everything and joined their two daughters in the Midwest. The close-knit family has lived here ever since.

“I had a good time [in Kansas City], and I never went back,” she tells me. “Now it’s awesome and fun, and there’s a lot going on. But back then there was nothing to do. I think it was the fact that we were young, and it was something different — but this is home to us now.”

Like many Brazilian children, Jessica grew up making brigadeiros (using a recipe that’s been in the family for generations) as well as eating the hand-rolled treats at every special event. For them, brigadeiros are full of memories, because they’ve always been an expression of celebration.

“Each one of them reminds me of something,” Jessica says. “I have to say that the traditional one — the milk chocolate — is the most famous one. It’s one of my favorites. And everyone loves crème brulee. I tell people, ‘You must try that — you will thank me later.’ ”

There have been plenty of such thank-yous since last January, when Jessica and Regina founded Sweet Kiss Brigadeiro, Kansas City’s first shop dedicated to the colorful candy. Jessica says response has been strong, and the women are helping KC beat the learning curve by hosting roll-your-own brigadeiro workshops. They’ve even shared a box with Royals outfielder Paulo Orlando, who is originally from Sao Paulo.

Sweet Kiss sells its brigadeiros, which are available in more than a dozen flavors, online and during regular pop-up shops at various locations around town, including at HMK on the Plaza and Williams-Sonoma in Leawood. In addition to being shipped, orders can also be carried to your door via Shatto Milk Company’s home delivery service or picked up at Hand & Land in Leawood.

When I recently ordered a box, I chose the latter option, giving me an excuse to browse Hand & Land’s meticulously selected array of all-natural home and body-care products. Once I got to the car with my brigadeiros, I immediately sampled one of each flavor: dark chocolate, crème brulee, and white chocolate with Nutella.

Because it was my first time trying a brigadeiro, I had no memory to associate with the flavor. And I was still stumped about how to phrase my enchantment; “caramel-fudge wads,” for instance, doesn’t fully capture the essence, though “magic sparkle balls” comes a bit closer.

So I will forever associate this unique deliciousness with the experience of sitting in a suburban parking lot on a hot summer day, sweating through my clothes, chewing the candy and attempting to summon the right words. But that’s OK, because ultimately that memory will be of a candy that transported me. Eating it, I felt as though I were somewhere else, somewhere better. Also, the car’s AC had kicked in.

Categories: Food & Drink