If you happen to know any Brazilians leaving abroad, ask them to name the five foods that they miss the most. I’m willing to bet that “pao de queijo” (little cheese bread) makes the list. Some might even shed a tear or two thinking about it.
Want to say it as a native? The nasal sound of “pao” is a little tricky, listen…
Originally from the beautiful state of Minas Gerais, they are made with a farmer’s type cheese, quite unique (Minas’ cheese, read about it here). Brazilian cheese bread is so popular that nowadays you can buy it in stores all over the country called ‘Casa do Pao de Queijo” (Home of the Cheese Bread), or as a dry mix, in colorful bags available at most grocery stores. I’ve lost track of how many such bags we’ve stuffed in our luggage coming back from annual trips to visit family and friends.
Last year I found a recipe for pao de queijo published by Fer, in her blog Chucrute com Salsicha. She is a Brazilian-American like myself, and she raved about them. When things like pao de queijo are on the line, Brazilians attentively listen to each other… At least three Brazilian bloggers back this recipe. Try it, you’ll love it
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup farmer’s cheese (see comments)
1 T Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt
for topping (optional)
fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
Add all ingredients, except those for the topping, into a blender. Blend very well at full speed, stopping a couple of times to scrape the surface of the blender’s cup, making sure no bits of tapioca starch are left unmixed.
The mixture will be a little thinner than pancake batter. Pour the batter in mini-muffin tins, to no more than 3/4 of their capacity, as shown here. The recipe makes 24 little cheese breads.
Add a little bit of salt and rosemary on top, place in a 400F oven, and cook for 20 minutes.
Most will come out right away without sticking. If some stick slightly, allow them to cool for a few minutes and probe them out gently with the tip of a knife.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: In the original recipe, Neide was trying to mimic little cheese breads she had at a restaurant in Rio de Janeiro. She used exclusively Parmiggiano cheese in the batter. I’ve made this recipe many times, and now settled on a combination of two cheeses: a melting type, preferably Mexican, and a small amount of Parmiggiano to sharpen the taste. Of course, depending on the type of cheese, adjust the salt. In this batch I did not add any rosemary, but please do so, it is perfect with it.
They resemble popovers in texture, but are gluten-free, so folks with gluten allergies can still enjoy them!