If there is one food I LOVE in Brazilian cuisine is “pão de queijo,” also known in the US as Brazilian cheese bread. There is just something about those little balls of goodness that won’t let me be content with having just one, or five =P
Although I spent most of my childhood in Brazil, once my family moved to the United States, I rarely ever got to enjoy some good ol’ pão de queijo. Rarely that is, until two years after I was married and my husband and I moved to the campus of Andrews University in Southwest MI. There, we were surprised to find a vibrant Brazilian community that embraced us and made us feel right at home.
During the two and a half years we spent there, we not only developed friendships that we will cherish for a lifetime, we also ate lots and lots and lots of Brazilian cheese bread. In fact, I think my husband and I enjoyed more Brazilian cuisine while in MI than we had growing up. I also had a chance to finally learn how to make some of these special dishes myself and pão de queijo was at the top of the list.
As you may have gathered from this short introduction, I am not a vegan. However, I do believe there is such a thing as too much cheese. That is the reason why this recipe I am about to share with you in one of my favorites.
I learned this recipe from my dearest friend Grazi, who probably loves pão de queijo as much as I do. Since her husband is lactose intolerant, she found a way to get him to enjoy the goodness too.
So here it is…
Vegan “Pão de Queijo” (Brazilian Cheese Bread)
Ingredients (≈80 rolls/1 hr 15 min)
- 4 cups of tapioca starch (Update: you can add about 1/2 to 1 cup more at the end if you feel the dough is too runny)
- 4 medium sized potatoes peeled, boiled, drained, and mashed
- 1 1/2 cup of water
- 1 medium sized onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of oil
- Salt to taste
- Nutritional Yeast to taste (optional-this is my own addition =P)
- Blend water, onion, garlic, oil, and salt until smooth.
- Pour mixture into a sauce pan and bring to a boil (over high heat).
- Add the tapioca starch to a mixing bowl.
- Add boiling mixture to the starch and mix evenly. The starch will become gooey and sticky at this point.
- Add the potatoes while they are still hot to the gooey starch and mix evenly.
- Once it cools, knead the dough until smooth. (Make sure to break any big pieces of potato you may find.) [Update: here is where you can add the extra tapioca starch if you need it]
- If you choose to use the nutritional yeast, you can add it now. I usually add enough to give the dough some color and a little bit of a cheesy taste.
- Pull small portions from the dough and roll into medium sized balls. If you find the dough to be too sticky and difficult to roll, use a little bit of tapioca starch on your hands.
- Place the balls on a baking sheet
- Bake for 25-30 minutes (until slightly golden) at 350 F
Note: For me, the best way to eat pão de queijo is right out of the oven. However, If you decide you would like to save yours for later, you can freeze them instead of baking. All you have to do is place the baking pan in the freezer instead of the oven. When the balls are frozen, you can remove them from the pan, place them in Ziploc bags, and store them in the freezer. Whenever you are ready to eat, just pull them out of the bag and place them back on the baking pan and in the oven for about 30-45 min (until golden) at 350 F.
At our house, I usually bake half the recipe and freeze the other half. On the days when I am feeling truly ambitious, I will make two recipes and keep them in the freezer for special occasions or when we have unexpected guests.
You can also experiment with your favorite seasonings.
Do you like this recipe? Would you like to see more like it? Let me know in the comments below.