The Brazilians were really on to something when they crafted their sweet treat that has come to be known as the brigadeiro. The bite-size nibbler that’s the consistency of a thick caramel and often adorned in dainty sprinkles is making its culinary mark on Columbus thanks to Cristina Jabur.
Sweets are new project for Jabur who is an executive producer by trade. She’s done much work in her native country of Brazil, co-owning an agency with her brother. A chance to work on a documentary about Westside Barbell owner and well-known powerlifter Louie Simmons brought her to the buckeye state.
Jabur started frequenting High Street restaurants, noticing Columbus’ love of food and burgeoning culinary scene. But one thing was missing.
“I’ve noticed that one of the most iconic sweets we having in Brazil, Columbus didn’t have,” Jabur says.
Columbus tastebuds were missing out on the brigadeiro, and thus began her quest to introduce the city to Brazil’s go-to sweet.
While the culinary industry may not have been her first profession, “I always like to cook sweets,” Jabur says.
Family outings back in Brazil normally revolved around food. Large, family dinner parties were a regular occurrence and her grandmothers were some of the best cooks around. One would wake up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare a feast of a lunch for all around, and the other would prepare traditional sweets every Sunday churning out some of the best dulce de leche ever.
This history of Brazil’s brigadeiro dates back to the 1940s. Brigadier Eduardo Gomes was running for president and his loyal follower started making and selling the simple sweets to show support. While they had many names at the time, the treats became known as brigadeiros.
A mixture of condensed milk, cocoa and butter, the sweets are a culinary and cultural staple.
“There is a good use for brigadeiros in every different occasion,” Jabur says.
Birthday party? Brigadeiros. Wedding shower? Brigadeiros. Office party? Brigadeiros. It’s the sweets answer to any question.
Jabur keeps things authentic at Santo Brigadeiro, importing the main ingredients and sprinkles from Brazil.
“These make all the difference in the preparation,” she says.
The process is a labor of love, involving getting the mixture to just the right consistency then hand-rolling each ball. The flavor possibilities are nearly limitless spanning coffee to dulce de leche and even Oreo.
Jabur explains that brigadeiros are like cake – best eaten fresh. They are also sold in boxes because, let’s be honest, it’s impossible to eat just one. Although that may be the case, the brigadeiro is actually the perfect answer to most Americans’ shift to health consciousness. Jabur did a lot of research on chocolate and how people in this country consume it and found many are looking to trade the piece of cake for a small morsel of something sweet.
“This was one of the things also that encouraged me to continue with the brigadeiro,” Jabur says. “It’s the perfect size.”
She started sharing the sweets with Columbus in January, reaching out to groups like the foodie community on Instagram. Reception has been overwhelmingly positive, “But it was not a surprise because everybody loves brigadeiros,” Jabur says.
Starting a business is tough in itself, but Jabur took on the task along with building a new life and continuing to master the country’s language. She didn’t know anyone when she came to Columbus, but the city’s welcoming spirit has gone a long way to assuring her she made a good decision sharing a little piece of her country’s culture.
“I was so surprised because people were so well-received and so happy when I started reaching out to them,” Jabur says. “People from Columbus are really great.”
While she’s still nailing down the finer points of the laws, licensing and taxing surrounding her treats, she’s on a mission to figure out what brigadeiros Columbus wants. (So far it’s Oreo and coconut for the win.) Jabur also hopes Santo Brigadeiro can partner with other local businesses like coffee shops for that perfect coffee compliment. And, who knows, maybe Columbus will see a brigadeiro ice cream someday.
Follow along on Instagram for updates.
Read more about the sweet treats over on Columbus Underground.