Bolo Nega Maluca is a traditional Brazilian chocolate cake that is covered with a chocolate sauce ORRR with some sweet brigadeiro. It’s seriously the world’s easiest cake to make and possibly one of the most delicious too!
I love the Nega Maluca cake so much, not only because of its taste, but also, because of all the memories my family has created around it. My mom would make it very often, for most of our birthdays or as after school snack. I remember coming home from school and smelling the chocolate around the house and going completely nuts. I’d wait anxiously for the cake to to come off the oven to eat the crusty edges (that are almost like warm cookies) and for the brigadeiro to cool so I could lick the spoon! This simple cake is definitely one of the many happy portraits of my childhood.
We make this recipe with chocolate powder, rather than cocoa powder, which makes it a little less rich, and sweeter than your average chocolate cake. It’s just perfect for kids!! In fact, this sweet chocolate cake is a major crowd pleaser. Eeeeeverytime I bring it to a party, picnic or potluck people devour it fast, and there are never any leftovers.
But… What is Nega Maluca tho?
At this point you already know it’s a cake, but why the name you must be wondering.
The term Nega Maluca translates to “crazy black lady” which, well, ummm… *insert flustered emoji here*. There are 2 rumors that illustrate why the cake’s received this name. One story says that a kitchen slave in 1840’s, accidentally dropped cocoa powder in the bowl while preparing another cake. She was frantic but didn’t speak any Portuguese, so people around her had no idea what she was saying, hence calling her a “crazy black lady”. The other story says that a slave was tasked with baking a cake but didn’t have any milk. In order to get the job done, she replaced the milk with hot water, a substitution that was considered crazy.
There have been many debates throughout our history to access whether the name of the cake is offensive or not, and some people, to be more “politically correct” renamed this traditional relic Bolo Afrodescendente com Disturbios Neuropsicologicos or ‘Neuropsychologically Disturbed Afro Descendent Cake’. I mean, I swear I’m not making this up… like at all!!
So… Is it inappropriate?
In Brazil the word “Nego(a)” is an alteration of the word Negro(a), which in Portuguese, doesn’t have the same connotation as the N word in English, even though they sound similar. Negro in Brazilian Portuguese is the actual race a Brazilian person of African Descent identifies with. I, Aline, am negra – a female Brazilian of African Descent. It’s like saying African American.
Generally, the term Nego(a) can be used as a term of endearment, especially in Northeast Brazil. It’s like saying ‘my love’, ‘my dear’. You hear it in popular songs, or a mother lovingly referring to her child. However, depending on the context, the word Nego(a) can definitely be a horribly offensive term, especially as it relates to the caricatured carnaval costume.
So, the social debate around the context in which the term is used and its appropriateness continues strong in Brazil.
But… you came here for cake, so let’s get back to that!
Brazilian Chocolate Cake Recipe Details
You can totally use cocoa powder to make this chocolate cake, but in Brazil some people also use chocolate powder such as Nesquik, because it’s cheaper and we always had at home to make chocolate milk. What we use is called Nescau, a brand of chocolate powder pretty popular in Brazil. You can get it on Amazon if you’re looking for a 100% Brazilian food experience, but Nesquik or cocoa powder are fine to use as well.
Overall, this chocolate cake is super easy to make, and honestly can totally be done by hand – no hand mixer actually needed. My mom for example, only makes it by hand, with a wooden spoon or spatula. Just mix the sugar and the oil, add the eggs slowly one by one, mix in the dry ingredients alternating with the hot water. And bake!
While the cake is baking, make the brigadeiro.
Add the condensed milk to a nonstick sauce pan and mix in the chocolate powder over medium to high heat. Then keep mixing, scraping the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to avoid burning.
When we make brigadeiro to roll into those little bon bon balls, we need it to be a little thicker so it holds its shape. But for this purpose, to cover a cake that we won’t stack, we don’t have to thicken too much – we want a sticky, drippy goodness. After about 10 or so minutes, you should have a consistency like this in the photo.
Let the brigadeiro cool a little bit, just until it’s cool to the touch and pour over the cooled cake.
DEFINITELY lick the spoon! DEFINITELY!
And add sprinkles!
Hit me up on instagram to show me your Brazilian chocolate cake!
Nega Maluca | Brazilian Chocolate Cake
For the Cake:
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups of all purpose flour sifted
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- 1 cup of chocolate powder such as Nescau or Nesquik
- 1 cup of hot water
For the Brigadeiro:
- 1 can of sweet condensed milk
- 1/2 cup of chocolate powder such as Nescau or Nesquik
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Spray a bundt or 11x7in sheet pan
- In a medium bowl mix in the flour, salt, baking powder, and chocolate powder, and set aside
- In a large bowl, mix in the oil and sugar, using a hand mixer, in medium speed (you can also mix by hand)
- Add the eggs one at a time, gently, mixing in low speed
- Then, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients mixture to the eggs mixture, and fold by hand with a spatula to combine. Add half of the water, and fold to combine. Add the second third of the dry ingredients, and fold to combine. Add the last of the water, and fold to combine. Add the last third of the dry ingredients, and fold to combine.
- Pour the batter into the greased pan, and bake bake until a cake tester/toothpick inserted to the middle comes out lightly crumbly to clean (about 35-40 mins)
- Move the cake pan to a cooling rack and let it cool for about 10 mins, then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool in the rack
For the Brigadeiro:
- Add the condensed milk and the chocolate powder to a nonstick sauce pan and stir over medium to high heat, then keep stirring for about 10 minutes, scraping the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to avoid burning. Cook until the mixture reaches 185F-195F – You can use a candy thermometer, or just a regular food thermometer to check.
- Let it cool until its cool to touch, then pour over cooled cake