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Saturday Snacks: Let’s Make EPCOT’s Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)!

My husband came home from work last week with a surprise. A coworker of his, after talking with him about the Saturday Snacks series, brought a book to work for me to borrow. This was no ordinary book: it was an EPCOT festival cookbook. EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival: Recipes & Stories Celebrating 20 Years, to be exact.

I have gushed and gushed in the past about my great love for my favorite EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival snack item, but just in case you’ve missed my ramblings on the subject, let me fill you in. Once upon a time, someone decided to put bread with cheese. Fast forward a millennia or two, and you have my favorite EPCOT festival treat: the Brazil booth’s Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread). And I love it so.

The Pao de Queijo (the version that’s currently being served is seen above) is a simple combination of ingredients that results in steamy, toasty bread and melty, glorious cheese. As Martha Stewart would say, it’s a good thing. A very good thing. And it’s gluten free! What’s not to love?!

So, imagine my surprise when the cookbook was placed in my hands and the official recipe for my favorite festival snack was found on page 77. It was a joyous moment, to be sure. I’ve tried on two separate occasions to recreate the cheese bread using unofficial recipes, and I haven’t fully been able to replicate the toasty goodness that I’ve found in the park. I’m hoping that today’s attempt using the official recipe straight from the Disney chefs brings the cheesy results I’m after.

Right off the bat, we have a pinch hitter in the lineup. The recipe calls for us to use a food processor. If you have a food processor, you’ll be good to go. If you’re short one food processor, no worries. Remember that, here at Saturday Snacks, we don’t stress. Necessity is the mother of invention, and so I turned to the internets to seek the answer that I was hoping to find. I was hoping that my blender would do when it came to processing the food, and the world wide web assured me that it would. So, we charge forward with blenders in hand. Whew.

The recipe is simple, and requires us to load everything into the food processor/blender and combine. Easy peasy!

Two ingredients were called for that I don’t use on a regular basis: queso fresco cheese and tapioca flour. Queso fresco is easy to find; tapioca flour may take an extra step or two to find as not every store may have it in stock. Thankfully, Publix met the need.

To get us started, go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees and grease a muffin pan.

I pulled my blender out of the cabinet and started by measuring and adding the liquids first.

Measure out 1/3 cup of olive oil and 2/3 cup of milk, and pour them into your blender or food processor.

I measured out the 1 1/2 cups of tapioca flour and toss them into the blender next.

The tapioca flour was followed by one egg. Don’t you just love simple recipes like this one? Just measure it out and toss it in. Saturdays are made for simple recipes.

Toss in a teaspoon of salt, and get ready to crumble some cheese.

Depending on your mood, you can shred the cheese either by using a fork or by using your fingers. Queso fresco is a very soft cheese, and will crumble if you look at it sternly, so either way is incredibly easy.

You’ll need half of a cup crumbled queso fresco for the recipe, which amounted to just shy of half of the wheel of cheese. And I’ll be thinking of ways to use the rest of the wheel because I don’t want to let that fabulous salty cheese to go to waste.

To attempt to come close to replicating the action of a food processor, I placed the lid on the blender and repeatedly pressed the pulse button until things were completely blended.

Make sure to stop and scrape down the sides and blend just a bit more to ensure that everything is fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into 8 of the greased muffin cups. Be warned that the batter will be very runny. Don’t worry that it’s too runny; it’s all going to be okay.

Place the muffin pan into the oven for 18-22 minutes, or until light brown and puffy. I used the time that the pan was in the oven to clean up the kitchen. I thought about checking the oven at one point, but must’ve gotten distracted because I never did.

Imagine my surprise when I peeked into the oven when the timer went off and discovered how HUGE the Pao de Queijo were! What in the world? I thought I’d given life to Frankenstein’s monster.

After assessing the situation for a few seconds, I pulled the cheese breads out of the pan and placed them upside down on a rack to cool for just a minute. I found out that, upside down, the Pao de Queijo resembled what I’ve been served in EPCOT just a hair more. And, as it turns out, as they cool, they de-puff just a bit. Whew.

Friends, these little babies were delicious. DEEELICIOUS! The recipe tells us that they’re best eaten warm, so please don’t waste any time. Get down to business and eat at least one right away.

The outside of the Pao de Queijo is toasty and crispy and the inside is chewy, with pockets of air and, even better, pockets of cheese.

The snacks taste just like they do at the Brazil booth in EPCOT’s World Showcase. On second thought, they taste even better because they’ve just come out of the oven. If cheese and bread are your thing, you’ll want to add these little beauties to your must-bake list.

What are you baking up these days? How are you connecting with Disney at home? Whatever you’re up to this weekend, I hope that it’s a great one! Happy snacking!

Alrighty, it’s your turn! The recipe for today’s toasty, cheesy goodness is below:

Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Puffs)

Serves 8

1 large egg
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup milk 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1/2 cup grated queso fresco cheese 1 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin.
  2. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth. Scrape down side so everything is well blended. (Dough will be runny.)
  3. Pour equal amounts into muffin tin, filling each tin to about 2/3 full.
  4. Bake 18 to 22 minutes, or until lightly brown and puffy. Bread should have crispy outside and chewy inside.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool on rack for a few minutes. Eat warm.

Source: EPCOT International Food & Wine- Festival Recipes & Stories Celebrating 20 Years

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Deni loves all things Disney, and, in 2013, moved to the Magic from Maryland. Walt Disney World is her happy place, and she loves getting to share it with others. Deni and her husband of almost 26 years have 2 grown children. Her favorite WDW snack? A Mickey Bar, of course. Is there any other?!


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