Brazilian beijinhos are an easy to make candy that just about everyone in Brazil has had from childhood, made by cooking together sweetened condensed milk and coconut to form a fudgy caramel. They are one of the quickest and easiest candies you can make, no candy thermometer required. It takes about 10 minutes on the stovetop to prepare the base, then the mixture has to cool before it is divided into individual candies and rolled in more coconut. If you like coconut and sweet, caramel-y candies, you’ll love these!
The candies are rolled in lightly toasted coconut after they are rolled into balls. I say that the coconut should be lightly toasted because you want it to be dry enough to handle easily (without leaving your fingers too sticky), but you don’t want there to be any color on the coconut. I recommend using unsweetened coconut for the outer coating because it is less sticky than sweetened coconut. You can use either sweetened or unsweetened coconut for the coconut that is incorporated into the sweetened condensed milk.
The beijinhos will keep very well when stored in the refrigerator and can be prepared well in advance of when you plan to serve them. Traditionally, the candies are topped with a whole clove to give them the look of a small fruit (it reminds me of marzipan), but I prefer to leave out the cloves myself. I usually make mind about 3/4-inch in diameter, which is a nice bite-sized candy in my book, but you can make yours a little bit bigger or smaller if you want to mix things up!
1 tbsp butter
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup coconut flakes (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup lightly toasted shredded coconut, chopped fine (pref. unsweetened)
In a nonstick saucepan, melt the butter. Add in sweetened condensed milk, coconut flakes, vanilla and salt. Cook over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens. It should be thick enough that you can run a spatula through it, dividing the mixture, and it will hold its shape easily for several seconds.
Pour mixture out onto a piece of parchment paper and allow to cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Using a spoon or a pastry scoop, shape coconut mixture into rough 3/4-inch balls.
Place lightly toasted coconut in a shallow bowl or dish. Roll candy balls in finely chopped coconut, then roll the candies between the palms of your hands to give them a smooth, round shape.
Chill before serving for at least 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.
Makes about 3 dozen.