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A soft, chewy bread roll about the size of a golf ball and infused with cheesy flavor, pão de queijo is Brazil’s favorite savory snack and an excellent recipe to add to your repertoire. The manioc starch is what gives the cheese bread an incredible gooey and chewy texture, so try your best to use both types of manioc starches.
Adapted from "The Brazilian Kitchen" by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz.
- 2 cups finely grated fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 ¼ cup sour manioc starch (povilho azedo)
- ¾ cup manioc starch (povilho doce)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place the grated Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor. Add the eggs and yolks and blend until you have a smooth paste, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Place the two starches and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Set aside.
Place the milk, water, and oil in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Immediately pour the milk mixture all at once into the starch mixture and turn the machine on at low speed. Mix until the dough is smooth and the starch is all incorporated, about 2 minutes.
Pause the machine and add the cheese and egg paste, scraping it directly into the manioc starch mixture. Mix the dough at low speed until it turns a pale yellow, about 10 minutes. You are trying to develop the structure of the dough by kneading it slowly. The dough will feel a bit sticky.
Transfer the dough into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Wet your hands with olive oil (alternatively, you can flour your hands with manioc starch) and use an ice-cream scooper as portion control to make 1-inch balls, rolling them with your hands. Place them on the baking sheet, leaving about 1 ½-2 inches between each roll (or you can freeze them at this point by storing them in a sealed bag for up to 3 months).
Bake the cheese rolls in the oven until they puff up and look lightly golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. To ensure even baking, rotate the pan once during baking time.
Remove the baking sheet from the over and place the rolls in a basket lined with a napkin. Serve immediately while they are still at their warmest and chewiest.
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 4 ⅓ cups tapioca flour
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 ⅓ cups grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a baking sheet.
Combine milk, vegetable oil, and salt together in a saucepan bring to a boil. Add 4 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon tapioca flour stir constantly until dough easily pulls away form the sides of the pan. Remove from heat cool 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Mix in Parmesan cheese.
Shape the dough into small balls with greased hands place onto baking sheet a few inches apart.
Bake in the preheated oven until puffed and golden, about 25 minutes.
Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 20 puffs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, salt and butter, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the tapioca flour until incorporated.
2. Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the motor running on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, followed by 1½ cups of the grated Parmesan.
3. Scoop 2-tablespoon-size balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the balls of dough.
4. Bake until golden brown and puffed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a platter. Serve warm.
- 1 cup half-and-half
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cups tapioca flour
- 2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 eggs
Heat half-and-half, vegetable, and salt together in a saucepan over medium heat constantly whisk until mixture just starts to boil, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour mixture into a large deep bowl.
Stir tapioca flour into half-and-half mixture using a wooden spoon. Mixture will thicken quickly. Cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Mix Pecorino Romano cheese and eggs into tapioca mixture using an electric mixer or by hand until dough has a paste-like texture. Continue mixing until dough is soft and stretchy. Roll dough into 2- or 3-inch balls and arrange on a baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until cheese balls are puffed and hardened on the outside, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.
How to make Brazilian Cheese bread
It takes about 5 minutes to prepare it. It's that simple! You just blend all ingredients in a blender, except for the cheese, until smooth add the cheese, pulse it a little, and you are done. Fill in the mini muffin cups and bake it for approximately 15 minutes or until golden in color.
It's the perfect appetizer or even side dish for a party or dinner. It's ready in no time, super easy to make, and people will think you spent hours preparing this exotic bread. I'm sure everybody we'll be asking for the recipe!
So, to prove my love for the Brazilian cheese bread, I'll show you a picture I took when I was done baking them.
Can you see the little heart?? Isn't that cute?? I promise I didn't make it on purpose! It just happened naturally as they rose in the pan. I just thought it was the cutest pão de queijo ever!
Now, enough with the talking, and let's go to the recipe!
If you try this recipe, please, let me know your thoughts in the comments! I would love to hear it!
How To Make Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a pan over medium heat, combine oil, water, milk, and salt. Simmer the mixture. Then, let cool down a little bit.
- Pour warm mixture over the tapioca flour in a large bowl, mixing well with a wooden spoon. Then, wait for the dough cool down. Add the egg and knead well with hands.
- Add the cheese and mix well. The more homogeneous the dough, the better — but also the more difficult to roll. Let Brazilian cheese bread rest for about 15 minutes at room temperature. Grease your hands with oil before rolling into balls. Use a tablespoon as measurement.
- Either easily freeze them for up to 30 days or bake them for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve immediately!
NOTE: To cook pao de queijo from frozen, place them 1-inch apart in a lined baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
- You can make this pao de queijo recipe in other flavors such as roasted bell pepper Brazilian cheese rolls.
- For this, add 1/2 to 1 cup of blended roasted red bell peppers to this recipe or 1/2 cup of chopped fresh herbs. Because bell peppers contain water, it will take longer to bake. Serve with savory spreads or butter.
- You can also make this cheddar filled Brazilian cheese bread , these hot pockets, and tapioca breadsticks.
Serve the plain pão de queijo or Brazilian cheese bread with savory spreads, butter, soft cream cheese, jams, nutella, dulce de leche, or guava paste. This is actually very common in Brazil. I like to spread sweet potato jam in mine. It is a hit in Rio and all over Brazil!
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat .
- Add olive oil, milk, and salt into a saucepan on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and remove from the burner.
- In a large bowl, add tapioca flour and pour in the hot liquid mixture. Mix with a spatula until combined.
- When dough is cool to touch, add in the eggs and parmesan cheese and knead until smooth.
- Allow the mixture to rest for 15-20 minutes to firm up. Then, using a cookie scoop, take a heaping tablespoon of the “dough” and place the cheese balls on the prepared baking sheet. Alternatively, you can also pour the batter into a mini muffin pan.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until cheese balls are puffed and golden.
- Serve immediately. ENJOY!
If you think something went wrong because your cheese balls turn out chewy, think again! Pão de Queijo is made with tapioca flour for a specific reason: to make it light, airy, and chewy. In fact, it’s very similar to the texture of Mochi Bread you might find in Asian bakeries. So if you notice that these Brazilian cheese bread has a different texture than your normal yeast bread, you’re right!
Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread
Brazil is famous for its pão de queijo--cheese rolls with soft chewy centers. These traditional snacks and breakfast treats come from the state of Minas Gerias in southeastern Brazil. Although pão de queijo didn't become popular until the 1950s, they are said to have been around since the 18th century the original version, however, did not include cheese or milk as those ingredients weren't available at that time. Pão de queijo is made with cassava flour (tapioca flour), the ground root of the manioc plant. Like many other Brazilian foods, this cheese bread originated with enslaved Africans, who would first soak and peel the cassava root before making the bread.
Pão de queijo smell wonderful when they are baking, and plump up into perfectly round balls. This recipe calls for regular farmer's cheese but if you can find the Brazilian cheese queijo minas in your local Brazilian market, your pão de queijo will be even more authentic. Otherwise, any firm, fresh cow's milk cheese will work well in this recipe.
So, where in Brazil do these little cheesy gems come from?
Well, from the Minas Gerais, a state in the west of Brazil. During colonial times this area was known for its large deposits of diamonds, gems, and gold. The traditional cheese used to make this cheese bread is Minas cheese, a local cheese that has been produced in the region since the 18th century. Claudia told me that the closest thing in the US is Parmesan.
The company Chebe makes and sells pão de queijo in bulk, and offers some historical context for the delicious cheesy bread.
According to Chebe, pão de queijo dates back to colonial times in Brazil and was originally made by enslaved Africans. As I mentioned, the yuca is very popular in Brazilian culture, as it appeared during the Portuguese colonization period. The root of the vegetable, which was deemed inedible by colonizers, was given to slaves to eat since they were deprived of many vegetables and the best cuts of meats.
They peeled the roots, grated, soaked, and dried the yuca to make what we now know as the basis of many traditional Brazilian foods. Using the residue leftover from this process, slaves made pão de queijo, but without the cheese since it wasn’t around at the time. They essentially ate baked starch.
Enjoy your pão de queijo with a sweet Vietnamese Coconut Coffee to balance the saltiness.
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