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Bring the hostages home.

Pao de Queija-Brazilian Cheese Puffs

Foodie Lit

The Face of God. Brewer.jpg

There are times that a book sticks in your mind. After reading The Face of God for The Next Generation Indie Book Awards, for which I am a judge, I thought of it often. Anguished and inspiring, Martin Drake, a conniving, corrupt, drunk, genius of a sculptor raises himself up to begin to create real art again. Pushing him is a strange and inspiring priest, Father Manoel, from Brazil, who despises Drake and his art. As the novel progresses, we see that the sculptor and the priest are opposite halves that slowly are revealed to be parts of each. Ironically and irrevocably, they are drawn to each other, inspiring the artist to find passion again in his art and the priest to find purpose in helping the artist regain his faith. The priest thinks, “Perhaps that’s why I am here…Perhaps I’ve been sent to help this man.” And the sculptor thinks, “When he fought against this priest he felt as if he fought against himself.”

Pao de Queijo is a favorite breakfast or snack, often sold on the street and certainly in every bakery in Brazil. Similar to a French cheese puff pastry,, it is a savory gluten free dough made with plenty of cheese. The insides are light and chewy, while the outsides are a bit crispy. This chewy bread with a cheesy interior is so much a part of Brazilian cooking that a New York Brazilian restaurant has it as its name! Many claim that cassava flour is the key to Brazilian Pão de Queijo, although you will find some recipes using tapioca flour. Cassava is from a tuber from the yucca plant, a frequent ingredient in Brazilian cooking, originating from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. Both cassava and tapioca flours can be found in supermarkets, in specialty stores and online. Best ser4ved fresh out of the oven or on the same day.

Pao de Queijo (Cheese Bread)

Yield 24 rolls

1 ½ cup milk

5 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups cassava flour

2 garlic cloves, minced, optional

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Place rack in middle position in the oven.

  2. In a heavy saucepan or pot, bring milk, butter and salt to a boil, then turn
    off the heat. Remove from heat.

  3. Add flour and garlic, if using, and beat until dough comes together,
    either by hand or with a hand or stand mixer. Let the mixture cool slightly.

  4. Add eggs and cheese and whisk or beat until well mixed. As this is a
    thick batter, you’ll need to scrape down the beaters. This is a thick
    dough and will take a lot of elbow grease to mix. I usually mix batters
    by hand, but I found even with a hand mixer, this dough was
    challenging. I don’t own a stand mixer but would recommend using
    one if you have it!

  5. With slightly oiled hands, with an ice cream scoop, make balls from
    the dough. Dough will be sticky. Place dough balls onto a parchment
    lined cookie sheet about 1” apart or into well-greased muffin tins.

  6. Place into oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the
    dough has puffed and turned golden. Cool for a few moments
    then serve warm.  

  7. To freeze: Cool to room temperature and place in a zip
    lock freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.


#vegetarian  #glutenfree  #cheese  # Brazilian

Expandthetable suggestions:

Cheeses:  Use other cheeses instead of parmesan.

    Try Gruyere, cheddar or any strong cheese.

Other flour: Use tapioca flour in place of cassava.

Vegan/dairy free: Use a nut or a seed milk and vegan cheese.

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