I know Disney's upcoming movie Encanto is technically fiction, but as someone who has been lucky enough to spend the past two years exploring Colombia in search of her own sort of magic, I can confirm that it most certainly exists in the form of flaky, melty cheese sticks known as "palitos de queso." This might be a controversial take, but I might even go as far as to say that the small arepas seen in Mirabel's kitchen in the trailer could be replaced with palitos de queso instead. Don't get me wrong, I love arepas just as much as the next Colombian, but there's something about biting into a buttery, puff pastry-wrapped cheese stick that just feels like home to me.
Traditionally, palitos de queso are served from street food carts and are deep-fried. As someone who enjoys making recipes from my own culture at home, I recently tried making this delicious snack in my air fryer. After this attempt, I'm happy to announce that I will now be making my own palitos de queso at home for the rest of my life.
Make sure your milk or water are as cold as possible to ensure that the butter in the dough stays solid. This recipe calls for an air fryer, but you can always fry the palitos in oil or bake them in a traditional oven at the same temperature as indicated in the recipe.
- For the palitos de queso
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup cold butter, cubed
3-4 tablespoons of ice water (or milk)
1 16-ounce block of low-moisture mozzarella cheese
- For the egg wash
1 tablespoon milk
- Place flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, egg, and cubed butter in a food processor or stand mixer and blend for 10 seconds, or until the flour and butter have combined into a sand-like mixture.
- With the food processor or mixer on at a low speed, slowly pour in ice-cold water or milk one tablespoon at a time until the mixture has come together into a cohesive dough.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a ball.
- Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes.
- While your dough is chilling, cut the block of mozzarella cheese into equal-width cheese into ¾” wide sticks.
- After the dough has chilled, place it on a well-floured surface and gently roll it out into a giant rectangle (about “⅛ “-¼” in thickness) until the rectangle is about 3x the length of the cheese and guava sticks. Make sure to trim up the edges by slicing away any excess dough before continuing with the next step.
- When the rectangle has reached the ideal length, divide the dough lengthwise into 6 or 8 strips of equal width, one for each cheese stick.
- Wrap each cheese stick in a single strip of pastry dough by draping one end of the dough across the top of one end of the cheese, then gently twirl the cheese stick so that the dough wraps itself around the cheese all the way down until it covers the remaining exposed end.
- Gently roll the pastry-wrapped cheese stick to adhere the dough onto itself, but not hard enough to flatten the dough entirely.
- Coat an air fryer basket with nonstick spray and gently place each cheese stick onto the basket with adequate space to rise.
- Using a silicone brush, coat each cheese stick generously with egg wash before placing the basket into the air fryer and baking at 380°F for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the basket from the air fryer, apply another coat of egg wash to each of the cheese sticks, and place in the air fryer for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the basket from the air fryer, apply one last coat of egg wash to the cheese sticks, and place back into the air fryer for an additional 5 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.
- Remove the cheese sticks from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving alongside blackberry or marinara sauce.
- 8 Servings
- Prep Time
- 1 hour
- Cook Time
- 25 minutes
- Total Time
- 1 hour, 24 minutes, 59 seconds