Post #469 Brazilian Cheese Puffs Are Da Bomb

April 14, 2016 at 2:24 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #469 Brazilian Cheese Puffs Are Da Bomb

Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time probably knows that I used to travel all over the world for the government.  It was an amazing learning experience, apart from being a lot of work.  I got to try so many different kinds of foods in so many places and experience so many cultures through that.  I was talking to my boss one time and the subject of South America came up.

“I’ve never been there,” I admitted, not having much to add to the conversation.

Next thing I knew I had three trips scheduled to different places in South America and got to learn about the various cultures in the different countries.  I even wrote a blog post about Brazilian barbeque called churrascaria.  It’s a wonderful and amazing way to eat and if you ever get the chance to, I recommend you go for it.

In the places I’ve been, that are authentic, whether in the country or out of it, there is a long table full of salads and sides.  The temptation is to fill up on the sides because they all look so good, and miss out on a lot of the meat which is the real star of the show.  Another thing they do to try to fill you up is to put down a few dishes on the table.  Apparently, these are the most loved sides in the country.  One is fried bananas; one is garlic mashed potatoes; and the other are called Pao de Queijo, or Cheese Bread (or Puffs).

cheese puffs 1

Let me tell ya, I’ve eaten bread all over the world and there are some that stand out, but these little bites are outstanding!  I was told that the current Sec of State, whenever he was on a stopover of any length of time would have a plate of fresh cheese bread taken out to him.  When done right, they really are that good.  They puff up perfectly; they have a light but chewy interior with a crispy exterior; and they have a strong cheesy flavor not found in many places.  They use different ingredients so the fact they are gluten free should please some people.

Let’s talk about the ingredients for a moment.  First, always try to use authentic ingredients to get authentic flavor.  This recipe doesn’t use standard AP flour.  It uses tapioca flour, also called cassava flour.  It can be tricky to find but many health food stores will have it for their gluten free customers.  Second, the cheese used in Brazil is a fresh cow’s milk called queijo minas.  If you can find it, use it.  It’s a wonderful, mild, and slightly salty, depending on who made it.  If you can’t find it, use another variety of semi-firm, mild, white cheese.  Third, for those who are familiar with semi-advanced baking technique, this is a basic pate au choux, or puff pastry.  However instead of baking for a long time to dry out the interior, this is baked for less so the interior stays chewy and cheesy.

cheese puffs 2

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo)

  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 2 cups grated farmer’s cheese, or any firm, fresh cows milk cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 1/4 cups tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix milk, salt, vegetable oil and butter in a pot, and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove from heat.  Stir tapioca flour into the milk and butter mixture.  Stir in the eggs and the cheese, and mix well.  Let mixture cool for 15-30 minutes, so that it will be easier to handle. (I like to chill it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so).  With floured (tapioca flour) hands, shape the dough into golf ball size balls (about 50 gram portions) and place them on a baking sheet.  Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are puffed up and are golden. They will rise slowly and puff up mostly in the last 5 or 10 minutes.  Serve warm.


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