Dish of the Week: Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

The tangy Brazilian cheese puffs are delicious and gluten-free.
The tangy Brazilian cheese puffs are delicious and gluten-free.
Photo by Carlos Lopes

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re heading to South America with a Brazilian specialty: Pão de Queijo.

Portuguese for “cheese bread,” pão de queijo is the name for tiny baked cheese rolls made with yuca (also known as cassava) that has been dried and milled into tapioca flour. The slightly sour and tangy puffs are commonly eaten at breakfast or as a snack/street food in Brazil and northern Argentina. Not only are they incredibly addicting, they are naturally gluten-free.

As with many Brazilian foods, the bread originated among African slaves. The common practice was to soak and peel cassava root to make bread. When more ingredients became available to the Afro-Brazilian community toward the end of the 19th century, milk and cheese were incorporated, making the pão de queijo that we know and love today.

When baked, the rolls have a thin outer shell and a stretchy, soft interior. They tend to get stale pretty quickly, so they are best served hot and fresh from the oven.

This recipe, from Serious Eats, has just six simple ingredients. Use a 12-cup mini muffin baking dish to make perfect-sized puffs. 

Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

Ingredients makes 2 dozen
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1/2 cup grated queso fresco
1 teaspoon table salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Grease two 12-cup mini muffin tins.

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth, about seven seconds.

Pour batter into cups, filling 2/3 full.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.


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