Pão de Queijo

Little Cheesy BreadsIf you have been to Brazil, or know anyone who has (like my husband), they will undoubtedly know what these divine little cheese breads are. If you haven’t yet been introduced, pão de queijo are street food throughout Brazil, and they are unbelievably terrific. A batch of these makes about 200, and we usually eat 100 of them the night we make them (and all feel a little sick, of course, too). Tonight, Peter stuffed three in his mouth all at the same time, and then lowered his face to the table to pick up another. Sadly, Henry too had four in his mouth. Definitely a safety hazard.

Pão de Queijo

4 c. milk
1 c. vegetable oil
2 lbs. polvilho doce/sweet yucca starch (in Rhode Island, this is found on the international food aisles of almost all grocery stores, by the bagged beans. It’s white and powdery–looks like corn starch. Out of state, it might be found in latin markets. I’m not sure.)
1 lb. mineiro cheese or 12 oz. parmesan (or romano) cheese, grated
1 T. salt
5 eggs, lightly beaten

Place yucca starch in a large bowl. Boil the milk and oil in a large pot, watching carefully since it can quickly bubble over the sides. Remove milk mixture from the heat and pour over the starch, and mix together well with a large wooden spoon. Let the mixture cool (about 25 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 350. Once the mixture is cooled, add the cheese to the milk mixture, and knead well, until mostly incorporated. Add the beaten eggs and salt, and knead thoroughly (I do this by hand and it’s extremely messy, but I can’t get them to turn out correctly otherwise). The dough will be soft and sticky. With wet hands, form the dough into teaspoon-sized balls, rewetting your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Placed on greased sheets and cook for 30 minutes. (I usually use 3 baking sheets total to make a full batch).

If you can find the ingredients, I would really recommend making these. If you can’t, next time you come over, I’ll make them for you.

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6 thoughts on “Pão de Queijo

  1. Rex says:

    Adoro pão de queijo! thanks so much for making them yesterday!

    Here’s a link I found to a video of a little old Brazilian grandma making them. As you can see, they are very messy—but so worth the clean up.

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    • Natalie says:

      I haven’t tried that substitution, but I wouldn’t think it would work as well, because I’ve tried even the plain yucca starch (as opposed to the sweet starch), and it doesn’t work. Let me know if you have success! Otherwise, look for the sweet yucca starch in Latin American specialty shops.

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  2. Natalie says:

    Sweet yucca starch isn’t sugary, necessarily, but it isn’t bitter like the other yucca you can buy. From my experience with it, it seems much more gummy than cornstarch, but I’d be interested to hear if/when you try it! It’s certainly much easier to get corn starch.

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