By Greg Nelson
Upon first look, brigadeiros from Nezzy’s Brazilian Sweets look like toys. From the perfectly placed chocolate shavings to the ornate-candied toppings, it seems as if Nezzy’s treats belong on display rather than in your mouth. However, as soon as you try one for the first time, it’s clear—these are not your ordinary chocolates.
Inez Meehan, better known as Nezzy, has been making brigadeiros virtually her entire life but started the trade four years ago. “I never in a million years thought I would do this as a business. I did this for my [loved ones] just for fun,” Nezzy said. “It’s something you learn at a young age. It’s our culture, our passion in Brazil…If you have a party or event, you must have brigadeiros. If you don’t have [them], it’s not much of a party.”
A brigadeiro is a traditional Brazilian sweet comprised of fudgy, chocolaty truffle. Conventional recipes use condensed milk and cocoa powder, but Nezzy’s recipe is much more decadent. Her recipe uses Belgian chocolate to provide the highest quality product possible. “These are the gourmet version. That’s why they melt in your mouth.”
Hailing from Brazil, Nezzy and her husband relocated to Idaho eight years ago after 30 years in California. “In California, there was a very fast-paced life, and we came here—oh my goodness, I love it here. However, I had to find something to do.” It didn’t take long for Nezzy to fill her time as her desserts rapidly gained fame. “I did a wedding for my stepdaughter, and my gift to her was a dessert table. I brought 500 brigadeiros for 70 people. Before the cake was cut or the food was served, they disappeared. People started asking me, “What is this? Where is your business? Where is your business card?”
Upon returning to Boise, she immediately contacted the health department to distribute her product professionally in the correct, legal way. Due to Idaho’s Cottage Food Laws, she could bake within her home. With that, Nezzy began her new venture, and soon, popular demand forced her into a full-time gig.
“My first event was Nampa’s Farmer’s Market. It started very little—I wasn’t sure if the people here would like it. But brigadeiros sell when [people] taste them. You know, they are beautiful, but to most, it’s just a chocolate. But when you taste it, that’s when people say, “Wow, just…wow.”
After the market, she started booking local events – one being a downtown Boise Christmas bazaar. Despite bringing what she assumed was more than enough for a two-day festival, she had completely sold out by 2 o’clock the first day. “I was a little freaked out [about what to do next]. Being a small, new company, I didn’t have the majority of my ingredients at home.”
However, Nezzy went home early and worked her magic – spending all night baking, pushing the typical 12-hour process. “Being a perfectionist, I didn’t want to do that, but I had no choice.” When she returned to the event the next day, a line of other vendors waiting to buy her amazing desserts had already formed – wiping out her inventory before customers even had a chance.
Today, Nezzy continues to make her brigadeiros in her home for events and local wineries. While she is always contemplating a commercial kitchen, expanding would require more time, energy, and a larger staff. “I must be present to sell my product. It’s my story,” she said. Until that day arrives, Nezzy will continue creating her one-of-kind, must-try brigadeiros in her kitchen for the Treasure Valley to enjoy.
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