If you were in Rio de Janeiro right now, you would probably be drinking an ice-cold cerveja, wearing a vibrantly colored and barely-there costume and dancing to the pulsating samba music filling the streets. Carnival weekend has arrived in Brazil, and the pre-Lent celebrations of life’s vices have begun.
Alas, if you’re sitting at your computer and reading this article right now, you’re probably not galavanting around the streets of Rio in a feather filled haze. It’s cool, neither am I. But just because we’re stuck Stateside in sub-freezing temperatures doesn’t mean we can’t have a little taste of Brazilian culture.
Enter pão de queijo. These little buns of goodness are a common snack all over the country, eaten at any time of day with a good cup of Brazilian coffee. Not only are they oozing with cheese—the base of tapioca flour makes them gooey, chewy, and good news for anyone with an allergy or intolerance, gluten free! Which totally makes them healthy, right?
Pão de Queijo
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: (around) 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Servings: roughly 2 dozen small pão de queijo
1 cup milk (whole is best)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups tapioca flour (can be bought at most Whole Foods’ or health grocers)
1 1/2 cups of fresh, finely grated parmesan
1/2 cup of fresh, finely grated sharp cheddar
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF
2. Combine oil, milk and salt in a large pot over medium heat.
3. Once your liquids are boiling, turn heat to low and add in your tapioca flour. Mix with a sturdy wooden spoon until you have a well-combined dough. Be forewarned, mixing this dough takes a little bit of patience and a lot of elbow grease.
4. Once your dough is formed, remove from heat and allow it to cool until you can comfortably touch it for several seconds. In the meantime, grate your cheese.
5. Once the dough is cooled, add in eggs one at a time and mix.
6. Once eggs are integrated, add in cheese and continue to knead/mix until well combined.
7. Roll small chunks of dough into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should have around two-dozen buns.
8. Place tray in oven and immediately turn heat to 350º F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the buns turn a light golden brown. Serve your pão de queijo fresh from the oven.
Amp up the festivities, invite a few friends over, and enjoy some of these Brazilian inspired drinks to go along with this cheesy treat. And next year, book yourself a ticket to Rio.