Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gluten-free, delicious “pão-de-queijo mineiro”



Pão-de-queijo (literally cheese roll) is an irresistible, addicting Brazilian comfort food: a treat to be savored at any time of the day. It is a very popular item in lanchonetes (more later) and padarias (Brazilian-style bakeries) all over the country, especially in the Southeast region - painted red in the map below. People have pães-de-queijo (plural) for breakfast, with coffee, as an afternoon snack, sometimes filled with different kinds of cheese (or other fillings), or at any time of the day they feel hungry and cannot or are not in the mood for a whole meal.


Pão-de-queijo can even be served as an accompaniment to main meals. When I was a child growing up in the country-side of Minas Gerais state (YES!!! I am “mineira”), people used to serve them at wedding parties with thinly sliced pernil (roasted ham) and maionese de legumes (Brazilian-style potato salad) - very “caipira”, and so so yummy!!!

“Caipira” (the same root found in the Brazilian national drink name, “caipirinha”) means “country person”, and/or “pertaining to the country-side”. People from Minas Gerais, or the mineiros (men) and mineiras (women), are known in Brazil as “the” prototypical country people, and there are many jokes and sayings about their proverbial cunning and shrewdness, as well as their cooking abilities.

Legend has it that the best and only authentic pão-de-queijo (the “mineiro” one) comes from the Minas Gerais state - the land of milk and cheese. The original recipe calls for polvilho azedo (“sour” manioc starch, sold in Latin markets as almidón agrio - see picture) and queijo da canastra, a tangy, flavorful, aged farmer’s cheese made with creamy milk from cows eating mainly grass and strolling freely in the pastures of this mountainous state (the picture below is from a farm in my home town, Guaranésia). Thus, to taste the authentic “pão-de-queijo mineiro”, you will have to visit Minas Gerais... (you won’t regret it, I promise!) But, for now, if you want a recipe to prepare a very similar one, here you are.




Actually, I decided to post two recipes here: one is an attempt to get as close as possible to the traditional pão-de-queijo mineiro (or, let’s call it “pão-de-queijo the hard way”). The second one, as I see it, is a recipe for the lazy (or not too versed) cook that does not care much for the tradition and/or does not have enough time to prepare the traditional, handmade one. It uses a blender and a different type of starch, the “sweet” one - polvilho doce (sold as almidón dulce in Latin markets).

One very important note: never ever attempt to bake pão-de-queijo in the microwave oven (I did, with terrible results!). On the other hand, they reheat very well in sandwich / panini makers, specially if you fill them with cheese!


Pão-de-queijo mineiro

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tsp salt (more or less, depending on the cheese mixture you're going to use)
1 lb (500 g) polvilho azedo (Brazilian sour manioc starch)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded queijo da canastra (or you can try a mix of 2 parts sharp cheddar cheese and 1 part mozzarella, or 1 part mozzarella and 2 parts parmesan cheese, or any other mix of melting, strong-flavored cheeses you like)

1. Combine oil, milk and salt in a sauce pan. Heat to just below boiling point (watch closely - when the mixture starts to rise, remove immediately from heat and use mixture in step 3).
2. Place the polvilho azedo in a large bowl.
3. Pour boiling mixture all over the polvilho azedo and, using a wooden spoon, start stirring the dough.
4. When the dough is cold enough to be kneaded by hand (but still hot), add eggs and cheese and knead until it is very sticky and elastic, about 15 minutes (you will need a spoon or scraper to get it off your hands).
5. Let the dough rest while you preheat the oven to 450oF (it is very important that the oven is at high temperature when you bake the pães-de-queijo; if they start to get too brown on the bottom before getting golden brown on top, reduce the temperature a little bit).
6. Oil two large baking pans. Oil your hands with vegetable oil and form golf-sized balls with the dough (40-45). Place them 2-3 in apart in the pan, as they grow considerably when baked. (You can, at this point, freeze the balls and then store them in zip lock bags to bake them straight from the freezer at your convenience - they will take a little longer to get ready, though.)
7. Bake until puffed and golden brown (about 15 minutes). Serve hot.



Lazy cook pão-de-queijo

2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, or a mix of mozzarella and parmesan cheese (or any other melting cheese you like, such as cheddar, gouda, etc)
2 1/2 cups polvilho doce (Brazilian sweet manioc starch)
1 tsp baking powder

1. Oil two 6-muffin pans (medium size). Preheat oven to 435oF.
2. Beat eggs, oil, milk, salt and mozzarella together in a blender.
3. Add half cup of polvilho doce at a time and beat well after each addition. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides, if necessary. Add baking powder and pulse 2 or 3 times to mix well.
4. Divide mixture among muffin cups filling them about half way through (the dough expands a lot when baking).
5. Bake until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot.

Eita trem bão, sô!!!

65 comments:

  1. Those look amazing!!! Your recipe for Pao de Quiejo includes manioc sour starch. Most recipes I have come across, including the Yoki mix use the Manioc Sweet starch. Is the Manioc sour starch more traditional and authentic?? Also, how many does the Pão-de-queijo mineiro recipe make? Thanks for your help!!

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  2. How long about does it take for them to get puffed and golden brown??

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  3. Thanks for the comments, guys!
    Yes, Zachary, sour manioc starch is more "traditional" for making pão-de-queijo (the sweet version of the starch is widely used in Minas Gerais too, but to make "biscoito de polvilho", "brevidade", and "sequilhos", among other things).
    As for the yield, if you shape them the size of gulf balls, you will have 40-45.
    Yesterday I made the "traditional" recipe and it took about 15 minutes for them to get puffed and golden brown in the oven. If you're baking them frozen, though, it is going to take longer. And make sure you use a lower oven temperature. I would say 400 F for half an hour, but I prefer to test this week and give you the exact numbers.

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  4. Do you where online you can find the sour manioc starch?

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  5. This is one place you can buy "polvilho azedo" online: http://www.amigofoods.com/poazyo17oz.html
    I baked the frozen pães-de-queijo (traditional recipe) yesterday and the best temperature is, for sure, 400 F, for about 20 minutes.

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  6. Elisa Teixeira makes the best pao de queijo I have ever had, anywhere in the world. Thanks for finally sharing your secret formula!

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  7. Really nice Elisa.
    I'll try the 'lazy cook' style this weekend.

    Congrats
    C Ya

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  8. Congratulations! A great idea to start your blog!

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  9. How fine should the cheese be grated??

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  10. Hi! Thanks for stopping by.
    The cheese can be coarsely grated for both recipes ;o)

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  11. I've noticed you added baking powder in the second recipe but not in the first. What's the difference?
    Thank you,

    Nancy

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  12. Hi Nancy, thanks for stopping by!
    I think the second recipe for pão-de-queijo uses baking powder because the dough is more like a batter (because of the type of polivilho used, the "doce" one, which does not need to be "escaldado"). In the first recipe, the dough is so consistent and elastic that it can trap the steam released until the pão-de-queijo is ready, whereas in the case of the second recipe, the gas would probably escape, resulting in a deflated product. That's why you need an extra help. If you try both recipes you'll notice that they are very different in consistency!

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  13. You list a couple of different cheese options. If I can't get queijo da canastra cheese, what combination of cheese is the best to use??

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  14. As I said in the recipe, it's up to you - use any hard / semi-soft cheese combination you like! Just make sure to combine strong-flavored cheeses with mild ones. For instance, if you want to use some blue cheese, add only 1 tablespoon to the mozzarella. More examples: the last recipe I prepared ("lazy" type) I used a commercially available 5 Italian cheeses mix, and I have also prepared the traditional recipe with aged white sharp cheddar cheese only.

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  15. I got hooked on pao de queijo when I visited Minas Gerais last year. fortunately, it's easy to find both types of povilho in my area (Rhode Island), thanks to a large Brazilian and Portuguese population here. But what else can I make with povilho other than the bread?

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  16. Lydia, thank you for your comment!
    There are a few recipes you can make with polvilho. For the "sweet" one, for example, you can make "sequilhos" (a small, dry type of cookie that melts in your mouth), "brevidades" (a kind of muffin with very airy dough) or "tapioca" (a type of crispy crepe typical of Northeast region). With the "sour" one, I can only recall the "biscoitos", which can be savory or sweet - I'm perfecting a recipe of my grandmother (actually, just trying to come up with more precise measurements). I'm planning to publish it some day. Try to find some of these recipes I've mentioned on the internet, and let me know if you have any questions on how to prepare them! ;o)

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  17. Elisa,
    I found a recipe to make pao de queijo with both sweet and sour. So I bought both, but I like the sound of yours better. The other recipe calls for nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Seemed odd since other recipes I found didn't have that in them.

    But since I have both starches I may try the other recipes you mention.

    Thanks!

    Kim

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  18. Kim, thanks for your comment. I can guarantee you that the traditional pão-de-queijo is unthinkable with cayenne, nutmeg or even black pepper! I´m sure you´re going to find better uses for your polvilho ;o)

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  19. Tried them tonight and failed. Not sure what went wrong though. The dough never formed up enough to make any type of shape :) Was a lot like wallpaper paste, got the sticky down, but not the elastic.

    Any ideas?

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  20. Hi!
    Which recipe have you tried? Remember that each recipe uses a specific type of polvilho. In the first recipe, the mixture of water and oil must be very hot to partially cook the polvilho azedo. When cold, the mixture hardens a bit and can be molded by hand or using two spoons. In the "lazy" recipe, the dough is semiliquid, that´s why you cook it in muffin molds. Let me know how you prepared it so I can try to find out what went wrong...

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  21. Hi!
    Which recipe have you tried? Remember that each recipe uses a specific type of polvilho. In the first recipe, the mixture of water and oil must be very hot to partially cook the polvilho azedo. When cold, the mixture hardens a bit and can be molded by hand or using two spoons. In the "lazy" recipe, the dough is semiliquid, that´s why you cook it in muffin molds. Let me know how you prepared it so I can try to find out what went wrong...

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  22. Oi, tudo bem, achei seu blog pesquisando sobre pao de queijo, estou na Australia e nunca vi esse manioc sour starch, aqui nao chegou muita coisa do brasil ainda, mas comprei tapioca flouer, parece maizena, nao sei se eh isso, sera que serve pra fazer pao de queijo?
    Obrigada

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  23. Oi Sabrina, tudo bem? Obrigada pela pergunta!
    Não tenho certeza se tapioca flour é outro nome para polvilho doce - inclusive pode haver variações regionais, ou seja, o importador da Australia pode dar esse nome a um produto diferente do que é chamado de tapioca flour aqui nos EUA. Mas se você quiser arriscar, eu sugiro que faça a receita de liquidificador, pois é a mais indicada para o polvilho doce. Me conta depois se deu certo!

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  24. HI Elisa, my question is very similar to Sabrina,
    I used Tapioca fluor, as according to wikipedia it's the same? But I think Brazilians know better.
    Does the sweet and the sour cassava starch from the same plant or simply using a different process
    to precipitate the starch, so one end up sour then the other. (Just like the dutch cocoa--need to add acid to the cakes formula). I wonder if you can add tartar or lemon juice to the "sweet cassava/tapioca to change it to Sour.

    Anyway i baked at 375 F for 30 min on the middle rake, it did puffed ok, but a little dry on the outside and chewy sticky inside, but no strands in side just a gltinous slightly sticky 0.5 cm shell. I would like to see some strands like you get some the puffed pastry from the choux .

    Look forward for you comment. Thanks

    TC

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  25. Hi would you recommend a couple good brazilian cooking and baking cookbooks

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  26. Have you ever come across a Korean bun using tapioca and some bread flour, with sesame seed and soy oil. It's very similar to queijo. I am looking for a recipe for that also. Would you formulate one.:) The premix can be found at most korean supermarket.

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  27. Thanks for the comments!
    * Unfortunately, there aren't many good Brazilian cookbooks in English. The one that I've been recommended to people is The Brazilian Table, by Yara Castro Roberts and Richard Roberts, or The Brazilian Kitchen, by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz (they do change many of the "traditional" recipes, though...)
    * No, I don't know the Korean bun, sorry! But I'll check this out next time I go to an Oriental supermarket. Maybe you'll find a good recipe for that in a blog or website specialized in Korean food.

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    1. I have used the pao de queijo recipe in Leticia Schwartz's cookbook, The Brazilian Kitchen. I ordered the sweet and sour manioc flour from Amigo Foods, very reasonably priced although shipping is expensive. My son's Brazilian friends said the pao de queijo was excellent and very authentic tasting. I had to bake it for longer than the recipe called for, about 20 min altogether. I use a stand mixer, that I bought so it would easier to make pao de queijo more often. We love pao de queijo as do my friends who are gluten sensitive.

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    2. Hi Mary! Thanks for your comments. Have you tried any of my recipes yet, or just Leticia's? Let me know if you do. All the best,

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  28. TC, I'll write a blog about manioc and its subproducts because many people have asked me questions about that. But just to let you know: there are 2 types of commercially grown maniocs in Brazil nowadays: the "gentle" one (mandioca mansa) and the "angry" one (mandioca brava). The first is not very poisonous when raw, and by cooking it you make it safe. That's the manioc you buy fresh, or frozen, to cook and eat. The second one has a large ammount of cyanide and a bitter flavour - it requires a longer process to remove the poison. This is the one used to make manioc flour. The difference between "sweet" and "sour" manioc starches is because the first one is extracted after grinding the manioc to a very fine powder, mixing it with water and then decanting and drying the "goma" immediatelly. With the "sour" version, the "goma" is left to ferment before drying.
    I don't think you could make "sour" manioc starch by adding an acid such as tartaric acid to "sweet" polvilho - I'll leave that question to some chemist to answer...
    Last, but no least, pão de queijo (I don't know if already had a "traditional" one) are usually dry on the outside and very chewy and sticky on the inside - this is precicelly what we Brazilians like about that. And you're right - the texture that would be more similar to it is the puff pastry, but pão de queijo is much heavier and stickier.
    Well, I hope it helps! If you have more questions, let me know.

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  29. TC, one last thing: the paão de queijo you made was with the "sweet" starch, right? Usually, the ones made with the "sour" version are lighter and have more strands...

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  30. Obrigado, eu amo os brasileiros

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  31. Hi, Elisa, can you provide an approximate weight for the 1 cup of cheese. Also is it Okay to use all mozzarella or something have similar fat(28%) and moisture (42%). The next question is whether using skim milk and low fat Parmesan or Ricotta will give a satisfactory result.Thanks

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  32. * Thanks TC! We Brazilians love everybody! lol
    * Don't use ricotta for pão de queijo (unless it is very dry, such as smoked ricotta) - it has to be a semi-soft or hard cheese. I've never tried skim milk - I'm not the kind of person that counts calories, to tell you the truth... But I assume that, with all that oil, it's not going to make such a difference, maybe only for the flavour... You can give it a try! As for the weigh of the cheese, really, you shouldn't be so worried about that. When we make pão de queijo, we sometimes use 1/4 of cup of parmesan only, if that's what we have in the fridge, or sometimes more than a cup, if you want it really cheesey - it's more of an intuitive, preference-geared thing. But I'll do weigh my Parmesan next time I make it and let you know. ;o)

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  33. I am so lucky that I found some of these powders even in Vancouver BC, both by Yoki, one is a ready pre-mix, the other has a label says"Sour starch Almidon Agrio Almido Azedo" It's doesnt say Polvilho Azedo. I looked at Yoki's web site, the
    photo of the bread are the same .The fluor is grainy. Now could this be the same? may be just a different label for export purpose?

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  34. Yes, TC, almidón agrio is the spanish for "sour starch" - they probably made a mistake with "almido" instead of "amido", which is another word for "starch" in Portuguese. Good luck with the "hard way" recipe! Let me know if it worked.

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  35. DEAR ELIZA,
    I failed miserably, the dough is very very oily, seems to me the oil has separated from the dough, could it be because I poured the flour into the liquid instead?(just like when I made the puffed choux). However I did follow step 1 closely and
    remove from medium heat when I saw the first bubble. Anyway after baking 15 min-nothing happened, I cooked another 15 min, nothing happened again, I took it out and oil are flowing out of the dough.

    Separately is the sweet manioc the same as the Tapioca starch?
    Thanks

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  36. Dear TC,
    I'm so sorry about that! The only thing that comes to my mind is that maybe you did not heat the oil and milk mixture enough, so the starch did not absorb it properly!... You have to wait until it starts to rise in the pan (use a deep pan, so you have time to remove it from heat before it overflows). I wish I had time now to shoot a video, maybe sometime soon! Check youtube - you might find some videos to give you an idea of what to look for.
    I still don't know if sweet manioc the same as the Tapioca starch - need to research at supermarket.

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  37. Thanks Eliza,
    Yeh I know the term Tapioca is over used. Some times they even use it for Sweet potato fluor.
    I found a powder from Thailand, the label says Tapioca starch and the ingredients label says manioc, so may be I will try that for the Lazy formula.
    Regarding the long way, can you return the pot to the stove after mixing in the SOUR (just like the choux) to make it more sticky?
    Thanks

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  38. Yes, my friends, Tapioca Starch, at least the one commercialized by Goya, is the same product as "polvilho doce" - the manioc starch used for the lazy pão de quijo recipe!

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  39. TC, you cannot return the pot to the stove after mixing in the sour starch - if you want it stickier, put more eggs and/or cheese.

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  40. Hi Liz , I tried again with better result. I let the milk/oil become rolling boil before adding it to the flour. However I only use half of the required oil and cheese. I got a chewy cheese ball alright,but not anywhere light and fluffy like your photo.

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  41. Hey, TC, I'm happy it worked better this time! Which polvilho did you use? Send me a picture of them next time! ;o)

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  42. Hey everybody!
    I just noticed a terrible mistake in my pão-de-queijo mineiro traditional recipe - instead of 1 cup vegetable oil, the correct amount is 1/2 cup oil. I prepared the recipe now and found out that mistake :o(
    I sincerely apologize to all of you that tried the recipe and had bad results. I mean, it works, but it's not the same product.
    I hope you forgive me and try the recipe again with the corrected amount :o)
    Best regards,

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  43. Finalmente! Estava faltando essa receita, hein?

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  44. Hi Elisa! I know I am a latecomer to this thread, but wanted to give you some great feedback. I made the "hard way" recipe today and took it to a party with loads of Brazilians. The pao de queijo lasted about 2 minutes- everyone scarfed them down immediately! I am glad I saved one to eat myself. ;) But just wanted to let you know that for my first time making these, they were an instant and fast-disappearing hit with a Brazilian crowd. Thank you so much! Oh- and I used butter instead of oil because I didn't have any veggie oil on hand. They were still a hit. :)

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  45. Hey "anonymous", I'm SO happy to hear that (Brazilians are hard to please when it comes to their national dished ;o)
    I hope you try other recipes too! And thanks for the butter suggestion - I never tried it myself, but it sounds good!

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  46. Thanks, Elisa. I sure will try some others here. Do you have a good muceca de camarao recipe? It's one of my favorite Brazilian dishes! I'll be sure to check back here from time to time to see what new recipes you post.
    xo Susan

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  47. Elisa, you left some very important information out of your bio: You are BEAUTIFUL--inside and out! :)

    Tim

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  48. Hi Elisa!

    If, for whatever reason, all of the pao de queijo are not consumed at one time, is there any way to reheat them so that they are somewhat reasonable to eat? Or would it be best to just eat them as is? And should they be stored at room temperature, or in the refrigerator, in the meantime?

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  49. Correction, I meant pao-de-queijo. :)

    And, my questions refer to both the traditional, and the 'lazy' recipe.
    Thank you. :)

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    1. Dear Tim, thank you for your flattering comments!
      The best way to store the pao de queijo (or pão-de-queijo :o) is in an airtight container, after they cool completely. They will loose their crispy outside after that, but the flavor will be there. To reheat them and get some of that exterior crust back, you can use a panini toaster, or a griddle. If you stuff them with some cheese (and ham, or salami, or sun dried tomato with arugula and buffalo mozzarela!!!) before pressing, they taste really really good! (both versions). Let me know what you think when you try these recipes out!

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  50. Não sei se você já respondeu mas queria saber se você sabe o nome de algum produto pra usar como polvilho da receita tradicional? estou no Canada e não sei se vou achar o verdadeiro polvilho

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    1. Oi Paula, tudo bem?
      Eu só achei o polvilho azedo aqui em lojas brasileiras e em alguns supermercados latinos (como o Fiesta, de Austin). Nos demais, é mais fácil achar o polvilho doce (comercializado como yucca / manioc / cassava starch ou tapioca flour), que não fica muito bom na receita tradicional...
      Você também pode tentar comprar o produto online - sai um pouco mais caro, mas é o polvilho azedo de verdade.
      Boa sorte!

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  51. Pão de queijo made with sharp cheddar and parmesan cheese? Mmmm, I don't think so... My godmother's maid (both from Juíz de Fora, uai!) used to make it with Queijo de Minas. The closher thing I found in the US so far is what they call (in markets that sell Mexican fair) Mexican cheese. It is white, with a very mild taste, relativelly soft (but not with the marvelous texture of Queijo de Minas). I am not sure if you can find this kind of cheese where you live, but I'd be curious about the results if you ever decided to give it a try with this specific kind of cheese...

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  52. I made these yesterday for a huge fan of pao-de-queijo, using a 50/50 blend of queijo de minas and parmesan, and they turned out perfectly! My friend said they were the best he'd had outside Brasil. Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe and instructions.

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    1. Thank you for your comments! I'm glad the recipe was a success. I just brought a piece of authentic queijo da canastra from Minas Gerais and made my best pão de queijo so far. I wish I could find an importer of these cheese here in the U.S... The other day I tried to use fontega, and it tasted good too. Hope you try new cheese mixes and let me know how they come out :o)

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  53. Hi, Elisa! Do you know where I can find polvilho doce in Ann Arbor?

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    1. Hi "Anonymous" :o)
      You can find it at Tienda La Libertad, at 2231 West Liberty Street, Ann Arbor (corner of West Stadium Blvd.)

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    2. Thank you, Elisa!

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  54. Hi Elisa,

    Thank you soo much for the great recipe! I have made the pao de queijo (the hard way) 3 times already, because my son and his little friends at playgroup just love them. He eats them for breakfast now, we live in Australia...

    Thanks for sharing :)

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  55. Thank you so much for your comment! I feel very very happy that my recipe is a success with the little ones in Australia!!! :o)
    All the best,

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  56. Hello Elisa! great recipe . I have tapioca flour i bought at a thai grocery store . Do you think it will turn out ok ? Is there any texture difference between the tapioca flour and polvilho azedo? Thanks !

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    1. Hi! Thanks for your comment! I believe the tapioca flour they sell on thai stores are the "polvilho doce", which works better for the "lazy cook version", because it makes the dough more elastic and dry. But you could give it a try. I had a friend who did once and was happy with the result. I always use the "polvilho azedo", though. If you try, please let me know how it came out ;)

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