Tuesday, June 26, 2012

brazilian pao de queijo

Meet my new friend Isabella. She's an exchange intern in my office from Brazil. I've been chatting with her a lot, learning about the culture and normalities of everyday life in Brazil. Our conversation almost always turns to food, an international subject. :)

One day, while we were eating lunch of course, I was telling her how one of my family's favorite restaurants is Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steak house. We talked about the place {they originated in Brazil} and how the meals we get there are pretty much a daily occurrence in her home, they cook their meat on a spit every night. When I mentioned the cheese rolls... her eyes lit up and she told me that those rolls are something she really misses from home. Those rolls, called pao de queijo, are served with every meal - morning, noon and night. They eat them with jams, spreadable cheese, dunked in coffee... anything.

So I told Isabella that she would have to come over sometime to make them for me. A few weeks ago, when my parents were in town, she came over and made a batch for us. Huge hit! She came over to make another batch to share with the office since this is her last week. I will really miss her, but I will think of her every time I make a batch of pao de queijo!

brazilian pao de queijo 
{makes about 100 quarter size rolls}

2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 {approximate} pound tapioca flour (starch)
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup grated parmesan
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup mozzarella

Preheat oven to 330* F. In a sauce pan, bring the milk, oil and butter to a boil. In a large bowl, pour the flour, add the salt and make a little well in the middle. As soon as the wet ingredients are boiling, pull the pot from the stove and pour a small amount into the well. Using a spoon, gently stir the milk mixture into the flour until it's absorbed. It will be lumpy, that's okay.

Keep slowly adding the milk mixture until there aren't any dry spots left. It will still be lumpy, that's okay. You might not use all the milk, but keep it to the side because you might need it later.

Set the dough to the side, allowing to close to room temperature before adding the eggs. Once the dough is cooled, add one egg a time, mixing the dough with your hands and allowing the egg to incorporate. You should fold and punch the dough with your hands as you mix in the eggs.

When all the eggs are in the dough, grab a little piece and stretch it between your thumb and forefinger. It should stretch, but break apart once you pull your fingers about two inches apart. It will be really sticky. If it seems too dry, add a tiny, tiny amount of milk. If it seems too wet, add a tiny, tiny amount of flour.

This is when you add the cheese. In Brazil, they use a local cheese. Here we mix the three cheeses together to create a taste similar to the Brazilian cheese. Add the cheeses in, one at a time, mixing by hand. Once all the cheeses are combined well, wash your hands and get ready to form the dough.

Coat your hands in vegetable oil and dig in. Isabella formed quarter-sized balls. We heavily greased a few cookies sheets to lay them out on. You'll have to pause to re-coat your hands with oil a few times.
The best part - you can freeze them unbaked! We froze all but twelve of them. Just put the cookie sheet in the freezer and once they are frozen you can throw them in a zip-lock baggie for later.

The ones we baked right away went in the oven on the greased sheet for about 25 minutes. They puff up a little bit when you bake them. They are good no matter what, but even better warm when they are fresh. The finished rolls are crunch on the outside and super soft and kind of gooey on the inside.

Gluten free rolls, full of cheese, warm and steamy. YUM! Thanks, Isabella, for sharing this family recipe with me. Please come back and visit us!

xoxo, christa


  1. Isabella OliveiraJune 26, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I loved your post Christa!! Thanks for opening your home for me and is a pleasure sharing this recipe with you and everybody here! The description of the steps is perfect.
    Hope you come to Brazil one day and I miss ya already :)

  2. She sounds AWESOME. I love meeting people from other places. A few years ago a woman named Sunita started working with me and she's from India. She brought me the BEST foods. So darn good!

  3. Wow! I've never eaten Brazilian food but those rolls look delicious!!


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