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Empanadas Made With Brazilian Cheese Bread Are Coming To Target

One of the most memorable and delectable foods to come from Brazil has to be the country’s cheesy bread, known as pão de queijo. On its own, the rolls are savory, crunchy, airy, chewy, and nutty all in one bite. Made from tapioca starch derived from yucca plants, they are also naturally gluten-free.

These Brazilian cheese breads have been slowly sweeping across the country thanks to Brazi Bites, a frozen food brand specializing in several flavors of pão de queijo. Now, Brazi Bites is taking a novel step in the world of food and making empanadas using that same dough.

Photo courtesy of Brazi Bites

Coming to grocers nationwide this coming June, the Brazi Bites Empanadas will come in four flavors: Chicken & Cheese, Beef & Bean, Black Bean & Cheddar, and Chickpea Veggie. The pão de queijo crust ensures that these empanadas are gluten-free, but also gives them a crispy, cheesy exterior with a unique chewy inner crust that gives way to the hearty fillings inside.

The Foodbeast team got the chance to try these empanadas ahead of their launch at Expo West. That contrast between the crisp and the chew in the empanada pastry makes this one of the more unique textural experiences you can find, and makes it worth checking out once these hit stores.

Photo courtesy of Brazi Bites

When these pão de queijo/empanada hybrids drop in June, you’ll be able to find them at select Target grocery stores. A full list of locations can be found on Brazi Bites’ website. You can also find their regular cheesy breads available in freezers at several major retailers nationwide.

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How This Cheesy Bread Shark Tank Alum Became America’s Fastest-Growing, Woman-Led Food Business

In late 2015, Shark Tank investor Lori Greiner, known as the “Queen of QVC,” invested $200,000 in exchange for ownership of 16.5% of Brazi Bites, a company that specializes in making a gluten-free Brazilian cheese specialty known as pão de queijio. Since that episode, the cheesy bread Shark Tank alum has seen exponential growth margins, growing an astonishing 4,551% in 3 years and making the top 100 in America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies.

Co-founder and CEO Junea Rocha first had the idea for the business in 2009. After missing home after having moved away from Brazil for a few years, she asked her mom for her recipe for pão de quiejio. Traditionally, this bread is made with cassava flour (which is naturally gluten-free) and a traditional Brazilian cheese called Minas. While Rocha couldn’t get a hold of Minas cheese in the US, she eventually developed a blend of cheese that she was happy with that became the cornerstone of Brazi Bites’ success. In 2012, she and her husband Cameron embarked on a nationwide road trip to get their product into hundreds of grocery stores around the nation. They then appeared on Shark Tank and sold out almost in just a few days after the episode launched.

Now, Rocha and Cameron are ready to bring Rocha’s pão de quiejio into one of the largest grocery chains out there. Three of Brazi Bites’ six flavors are now available for purchase in 222 Target stores across the country as part of a major test for the brand. If successful, their imprint in Target stores could expand even further in 2018, according to Rocha.

Rocha’s success with her Brazilian cheese bread business has made Brazi Bites the third-fastest growing food company in the country, as well as the fastest-growing food business to be led by a woman. It’s a pretty remarkable journey for Rocha, whose cheesy bread product is now one of the hotter items in the frozen foods section.

If you haven’t had a chance to try these pão de quiejio out yet, check your area to see if a nearby Target is testing the gluten-free bread out. Additionally, there’s always any of the hundreds of organic and specialty grocery stores, including Whole Foods, that are already carrying Brazi Bites.