Recipe: Venezuelan Tequeños | Venezuelan Cheese Wrapped in Dough (Appetizers)

15 Sep

There are a lot of great memories I have from my childhood in Venezuela.  Most of those come from the various family celebrations held at my grandparent’s house.  Birthday parties, graduation parties, mother’s day parties, anniversary parties, farewell parties, welcome parties, wedding parties and just-because parties.  Back then most of my family still lived in Venezuela, and those get-togethers could become quite packed.  First cousins, second cousins, third cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, parents, godparents, friends, friends-of-friends, family dentist, even our piano teacher was invited.  Back when things didn’t cost so much, too.  My grandparents went all out to celebrate each and every one of these special occasions.  I remember they even used to hire waiters, tables, tents, caterers, cooks, and even a band sometimes.  Back then, most parties were like that, even if it was just a birthday party, it could look like what now is only done for weddings.  And just like in all well organized and catered parties, they always served hors d’oeuvres, or as we call them in Venezuela; “pasapalos”.  This word is actually quite funny, at least to me.  It is actually two words in one, “pasa” and “palos”.  The literal translations are “pasa” = pass, and “palos” = sticks.  What they mean in Venezuelan slang is “pasa” = to pass, and “palos” = drinks (the alcoholic kind).  Therefore pasapalos is something to pass drinks, in this case, an appetizer or small hors d’oeuvre.

One thing is certain though; a true Venezuelan party is not complete without the star “pasapalo”.  And that, of course, is the Tequeño. (Pronounced te-ke-nyos)

According to an article printed in a Venezuelan newspaper (sorry, the clipping I received didn’t have the paper’s name on it), the creation of Tequeños is attributed to Josefina Báez.  Josefina was a young entrepreneurial Venezuelan woman who, at the age of 15, created the now famous Tequeños.  Josefina owned a catering business of sorts, where she would make and sell other delicious Venezuelan pastries to local ‘bodegas’ (small grocery stores).  Josefina would also prepare pastries to entertain guests, such as her older sisters’ boyfriends.  Josefina one day decided to use some leftover dough from her pastry-making of the day and rolled up some cheese inside of it, and then she fried it and served it to their guest as simple “cheese wraps”.  Sooner than later, her cheese wraps became famous around the small city where she lived.  The city’s name is “Los Teques”, which doesn’t have any real translation, since it is a proper noun.  Usually people native from Los Teques are called “Tequeños”.  Therefore, once the cheese wraps were famous in this small city, another pastry maker from Los Teques, Luisa Casado, decided to sell Josefina’s cheese wraps to clients in other cities, eventually making it to Caracas, the capital city.  Once the cheese wraps were known in Caracas, they became even more popular.  They started ordering them and serving them as hors d’oeuvres in all kinds events such as baptisms and weddings, and people would begin to call these cheese wraps by the name of the people who would bring them to the city; the “Tequeños”.

You may notice that I did not call this post “cheese sticks”, because these are NOT your regular cheese sticks, they are way better.  However, the key to making real Venezuelan Tequeños, and not some other plain boring “cheese stick”, is the cheese.  You must have authentic Venezuelan Queso Blanco.  And trust me, if you do not live near an authentic Venezuelan market, you may not find the right cheese, but you could try to sample different cheeses at a Latin market near you and try to find a similar cheese.  Basically, the cheese has to be white, not too salty, and it has to melt easily, but does not become completely liquified, and it is also not watery inside its package.  Whatever you do, do not make Tequeños with Mozzarella.  You will have a very bland and boring ‘cheese stick’.

Ingredients for Venezuelan Tequeños

Ingredients for Venezuelan Tequeños

What you need:
– 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
– 1 Egg
– 4-5 Tablespoons Cold Water
– 2 Teaspoons Salt
– 5 Tablespoons Butter
(Cold, Straight From The Fridge)
– 2 Tablespoons Sugar
(or more if you like the dough to be sweeter)
– 500 Grams of Queso Blanco Venezolano (There is a round Mexican one called Gallo Blanco that could work, and I found one called El Latino that was very good)
– Vegetable Oil (for frying)
– Paper Towels

Preparation:
1.  Cut the cheese in strips of about 2-3″ long and ½” thick. Save inside Tupperware in fridge for later.

Cut the cheese in strips

Cut the cheese in strips

Queso Blanco El Latino

Queso Blanco El Latino

2. In a big mixing bowl, add the flour, the sugar, and the salt.  Mix well.
3. Take the butter out of the fridge and cut in little pieces.  Then add the butter to the mix and begin to mix it using the tip of your fingers to mash the butter together with the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well until the mixture is as fine as possible.  It will probably feel like little grains of rice.

Cut the butter

Cut the butter

Mix the butter with the rest of the ingredients using your fingertips

Mix the butter with the rest of the ingredients using your fingertips

4.  Add the egg and begin to mix with a wooden spoon.

Add egg and mix well

Add egg and mix well

5. Add the water and continue mixing, until all ingredients are well blended together.
6.  Once you have more uniform dough, take it out of the bowl and begin to knead it over a flat surface (use flour on the surface).  Knead for at least 5 minutes, as you would bread dough.

Knead dough

Knead dough

7.  Once you have a soft and uniform dough, cover it with clear wrap paper and let it sit for about ½ and hour or more.

Let dough rest for half an hour or more

Let dough rest for half an hour or more

8.  Place some flour on a clean flat and hard surface, like your countertop or cutting board.  Spread the flour evenly over the entire working surface (so the dough won’t stick to it).
9.  Using a rolling pin, begin to flatten the dough.  It shouldn’t be too thin or too thick.  Perhaps just a bit thinner than a ¼ of an inch.

Flatten dough with rolling pin

Flatten dough with rolling pin

10. Once flattened, cut strips from the dough of about ½ an inch thick by 10 inches long.

Cut dough in strips

Cut dough in strips

11.  Roll the sticks of cheese with the strips of dough by placing one end of the cheese stick at an angle on one end of the dough, then closing the tip and rolling until the cheese is covered.  Making sure the cheese is fully covered and the ends are sealed (you can dab your finger tips in water to help you seal the dough).

Roll the cheese with the strips of dough

Roll the cheese with the strips of dough

Roll all the way to the end

Roll all the way to the end

Be careful at the end

Be careful at the end

The perfect Venezuelan Tequeño (Rolled by my Grandma, Ana)

The perfect Venezuelan Tequeño (Rolled by my Grandma, Ana)

A little tip from Grandma: Tap the tips against your working surface to flatten them and to help seal them. Cover with flour.

A little tip from Grandma: Tap the tips against your working surface to flatten them and to help seal them. Cover with flour.

12. You can place the tequeños on a baking sheet or Tupperware and also spread some dough on the bottom and top of each row of tequeños.

This recipe was supposed to yield for 50 Tequeños, but I don't know what happened to us.  Let me know if you make it, how many did you get. We got 30 Tequeños.

This recipe was supposed to yield for 50 Tequeños, but I don’t know what happened to us. Let me know if you make it, how many did you get. We got 30 Tequeños.

13. Cover them with plastic wrapping paper, or Tupperware cover and keep in the freezer until ready to fry.
14.  When ready to fry and serve your tequeños, make sure you have enough vegetable oil and that the oil is not too hot.  Then you fry them straight from the freezer and do so slowly until they are golden brown.  Don’t fry them for too long or the cheese will begin to melt its way out of the dough, and you don’t want that to happen.

Fry the Tequeños straight from the freezer.

Fry the Tequeños straight from the freezer.

15. Place the tequeños on paper towels to remove the excess oil and serve while still hot.

Recipe: Venezuelan Tequeños | Venezuelan Cheese Wrapped in Dough (Appetizers)

Recipe: Venezuelan Tequeños | Venezuelan Cheese Wrapped in Dough (Appetizers)

Recipe: Venezuelan Tequeños | Venezuelan Cheese Wrapped in Dough (Appetizers)

Recipe: Venezuelan Tequeños | Venezuelan Cheese Wrapped in Dough (Appetizers)

¡Gracias Tabue!
This post is very special to me, and I dedicate it to my grandmother
Ana C. Sandoval de Ojeda.
She makes THE BEST Tequeños EVER, and I thank her for coming to my house, and teaching me how to make them.  I owe this blog a photo of the both of us in my kitchen. Love you!

¡Buen Provecho!

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39 Responses to “Recipe: Venezuelan Tequeños | Venezuelan Cheese Wrapped in Dough (Appetizers)”

  1. Felipe September 16, 2012 at 06:12 #

    From looking at those pics I really felt the wish of tasting the wonderful Venezuela Te-ke-nyos!!! Congrats!

    • mwolowicz September 16, 2012 at 08:31 #

      Felipe,

      Thank you for your post. If you really want some Venezuelan Te-ke-nyos, you should ask Tabuela and Mariale to make you some :) Or I can make you some when you come visit me.

      Love you Tabuelo,

      MW

  2. Gaby Ojeda September 16, 2012 at 08:28 #

    Hi Meli. Congratulations on your blog. It is outstanding. I definetely agree with you. Tague’s tequeños are just simple the best! I wish I could eat some now! Maybe in December! Jaja
    Love

    • mwolowicz September 16, 2012 at 08:48 #

      Gaby,

      Thank you for your comment. Im glad you liked the post. We should get together and cook a ‘Gaby Specialty’ one day :)

      Love,

      MW

  3. Fernando September 16, 2012 at 19:30 #

    Think there are some of those te-ke-nyos in my freezer….. Which I’ll proceed to raid very soon!

    Great blog!…. Enjoying it a lot!

    • mwolowicz September 16, 2012 at 20:44 #

      Fernando,

      Thank you for your comment… My freezer tequeños reserve didn’t last very long. Hope you found some in yours!!! I’m glad you are enjoying the blog.

      Love,

      MW

  4. Morgan Ullmann September 17, 2012 at 23:16 #

    I just made some!! Im from Texas, but my boyfriend is from Venezuela! and I have made arepas, quesillo, and now tequenos for him! they will be ready to eat soon!! thank you for the post! I can’t wait for more! (by the way, I only got 26 out of the recipe…) :)

    • mwolowicz September 18, 2012 at 04:04 #

      Morgan,

      Thank you so much for your post. I am so happy to hear your boyfriend wont be missing any Venezuelan favorites, because you are making all the best ones. Also, thank you for letting me know how many you got out of it. I hope you guys enjoyed them.

      MW

  5. Julio P September 23, 2012 at 16:54 #

    Those Tequeños look delicious … Need to ask Fritzy to make some. For those in Canada, White fresh cheese is difficult to find so try with Haloom cheese which is the closer available.

    By the way. Fritzy get around 40-45 with 500gr of flour but looks like you had bigger cheese sticks and thicker dough ( usually I flatten the dough)

    • mwolowicz September 23, 2012 at 17:39 #

      Julio,

      Thank you for your post. I am sure my aunt Fritzy would be happy to make you some Tequeños. Thank you also for sharing tips on how to find a similar cheese for the Tequeños in Canada. I do get a lot of visits from readers in Canada. And the right cheese is definitely what can make or break a Tequeño recipe.

      Yes, my grandma was very surprised we only got 30 Tequeños with the same exact recipe that she usually gets 50 out of. And yes, we did cut the cheese a bit too thick and we didn’t flatten our dough enough either (we had been shopping and cooking for a while that day, lol).

      I think I must request proof of your Tequeño dough flattening :)

      MW

  6. Yaelian November 13, 2012 at 10:35 #

    Wow,this post made me so hungry for tequeños! I lived in Venezuela for a year and half about 8 years ago and this was one of the tastiest things I ate there ;) Thanks for the step by step recipe :)

    • mwolowicz January 21, 2013 at 11:00 #

      Yaelian,

      Thank you for visiting my blog, and for your comment. I am glad you liked the recipe. Please let me know if you made some Tequeños, and if you liked them.

      MW

  7. Joelle December 27, 2012 at 18:22 #

    I lived in Judibana Venezuela for a couple years when I was a teenager. I fondly remember going to the Club Bahia and ordering Tequeños! I loved them! I miss the people too :). Oh and the fun frozen drinks made out of all sorts of fruits. Coconut was my Fav. We’d stand outside one of the homes selling these and call out ¿hay coco?

    Great memories!

    • mwolowicz January 21, 2013 at 10:55 #

      Joelle,

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. I personally don’t like coconut, but I remember my mom and dad always drove by this little shack to buy their “cocadas”.

      MW

  8. Ludivine February 25, 2013 at 08:14 #

    Hello !
    I live in France and I can’t find any “queso blanco”. Do you think it could work with an italian “provolone” or “fontina”, or with an arabic “halloumi” or with a french “emmental” ? Your tequenyos look really great, I would love to make some !
    Ludivine

    • mwolowicz February 25, 2013 at 08:38 #

      Ludivine,

      Thank you very much for visiting my blog, and thank you for your comment. I am sorry you are unable to find “queso blanco” un France. I am not sure that it would work with provolone, and I can’t think what fontina would taste like right now. However, I can describe to you, what you are looking for, and you can make a decision based on that. The ‘queso blanco’ you are looking for must be a hard cheese, something that you would use to fry so that it would melt but not be too stringy and/or chewy. You want the cheese to be hard and salty, but you don’t want it to have a very powerful flavor (like blue cheese). But you also don’t want it to be bland, like mozzarella. I would sample a few cheeses and pick one that you like. You can’t go wrong with any cheese you get in france. And you can’t go wrong with tequeños. Most latin bakeries down here in florida use mozzarella in their tequeños. I find it to be amateur, cheap, and bland… but I still eat it ;)

      I hope this helps,

      MW

      • Ludivine March 25, 2013 at 06:43 #

        finally, I’ve tried with edam cheese, that is not very flavorful (from french people at least !) and not too cheewy, and my venezuelian friends found this version was not so far from the venezuelan one. Your dough is very good and very easy to make with your explanations. Thank you very much !

        • mwolowicz March 25, 2013 at 08:29 #

          Ludivine,

          Thank you so much for the update on your tequeños. I don’t think I have tried edam cheese, but if your Venezuelan friends approve, then so do I. I am glad you find the dough recipe easy to follow. Please send us a link to a photo of your tequeños next time you make them (and include a photo of the cheese as well). Thank you so much for sharing.

          MW

  9. Palabrista March 28, 2013 at 11:32 #

    I’m definitelty going to try this recipe VERY soon. I just need to find a good cheese, but here in Seattle the options are limited. Thanks for posting! The pictures look GREAT… Saludos.

    • mwolowicz March 28, 2013 at 16:20 #

      Palabrista,

      Thank you for visiting and for your comment. I hope you can find some good cheese near Seattle, and if you do, please post what you found, where you found it and a picture of your tequeños.

      MW

  10. Ed July 19, 2013 at 16:12 #

    The ladies at the Gulf Oil Camp in Eastern Venezuela would make and serve these frequently. They would also cook Pastolitoes , same except the stuffing was a marinated flank steak strip. Boy were they good!!!

    • mwolowicz July 20, 2013 at 09:31 #

      Ed,

      Thank you for visiting and for your comment. Were you in Venezuela for business?
      Yes, “Pastelitos” are delicious indeed. I might just make them some time soon and post the recipe as well.

      MW

  11. Vanessa August 26, 2013 at 09:30 #

    The tequeños have sparked my interest and I want to make them at home. I was wondering if there is a type of dipping sauce that goes with it.? Thanks!

    • mwolowicz August 30, 2013 at 17:47 #

      Vanessa,

      Thank you for visiting the blog, and thank you for your comment. There is no particular dipping sauce for tequeños. They are delicious all by themselves. However, there have been some newer trends where they put all kinds of different fillings in tequeños, and even sweet ones. But these traditional cheese tequeños need no dipping sauce. Another traditional way to eat these cheese tequeños is with guava paste along with the cheese as a filling, but I wouldn’t know about that, because I don’t like guava.

      MW

  12. Flavia October 13, 2013 at 00:28 #

    Hola!
    Hoy tuve la suerte de encontrar esta receta!
    Vivo en Canada y el antojo de tequeños siempre esta presente, sobretodo al reunirnos con otros venezolanos. Hoy decidimos intentar con tu receta y la verdad que nos quedaron perfectos!!!
    Los disfrutamos mucho!
    Gracias!

    • Flavia October 13, 2013 at 00:30 #

      Por ciertos, los hicimos con Queso Fresco y nos salieron 30.

      • mwolowicz October 14, 2013 at 10:42 #

        Flavia,

        Gracias por incluir la información de cuantos tequeños salieron de la receta y de cual queso usaste. Podrías decirnos en dónde encontraste ese queso en Canada?

        Saludos,

        MW

    • mwolowicz October 14, 2013 at 10:41 #

      Flavia,

      Gracias por visitar el blog, y gracias por tu comentario. Me alegra saber que pudiste intentar mi receta y que te gustó.

      Saludos,

      MW

      • Flavia October 30, 2013 at 08:58 #

        Vivo en el GTA en Ontario. El queso lo compro en la cadena de supermercados No Frills. Y cuesta unos $15 el kg.
        :)

  13. Karem November 12, 2013 at 01:34 #

    Acabo de descubrir tu blog buscando alguna forma de hacer carne mechada aquí en Canada sin usar olla de presión etc… Que maravilla poder leer tus recetas, ya he hecho quesillo, polenta criolla (que me hacia mi abuela en Caracas)…. Gracias, te seguiré con frecuencia

    • mwolowicz November 12, 2013 at 10:55 #

      Karem,

      Gracias por visitar el blog, y gracias por tu comentario. Yo por el contrario estoy en busca de una receta con el método para hacer carne mechada usando una olla de presión, jeje. Me alegra que te hallan gustado las recetas.

      Saludos,

      MW

  14. Jordyn Robinson November 20, 2013 at 18:08 #

    I am doing a project in my Spanish class on Venezuela and if you cook with your project you get extra credit, I have read that these can be made with chocolate also. how do you think is the best way to do that?

    • mwolowicz November 21, 2013 at 09:43 #

      Hello Jordyn,

      Thank you for visiting the blog, thank you for your question, and definitely thank you for doing your project on Venezuela. I have heard there is a new trend, especially in Venezuela, of filling tequeños with just about anything. I have personally not tried anything but the original cheese version, and I wouldn’t know what is the best way to fill them with chocolate.

      I would think that the dough is most likely the same or maybe sweeter… Here is a website (http://tequebite.com/menu.html) and another one (http://www.tequechoco.com/) of little Venezuelan businesses that sell tequeños filled with chocolate. I would think that you make them with a cold or even frozen chocolate bar (just plain delicious milk chocolate), and whenever you fry them, the chocolate would melt inside. But you have to be very careful when doing the wrapping of the chocolate with the dough, so that you don’t leave any spaces for the chocolate to come out while it’s still frying in the pan.

      A different recipe (that is a lot easier) you could try is the Guasacaca and serve it as a dip. You can find it here:

      http://venezuelancooking.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/recipe-venezuelan-guasacaca/

      I hope this helps. Please report back to us and let us know how you project went.

      MW

  15. Hannah Billows April 5, 2014 at 23:41 #

    I am doing this for a Spanish project and was wondering what the prep time and actual cook time was so my partner and myself could work on it. Thank You!

    • mwolowicz April 6, 2014 at 08:08 #

      Hannah,

      Thank you for visiting the blog and thank you for your question. I really don’t have an estimate for time… If there are two of you working on it it should be less time. What you can do is make them ahead of time, freeze them, and then cook them straight from the freezer.

      MW

  16. taly July 13, 2014 at 18:48 #

    I just made your wonderful recepie today and it came out perfect I did not have the cheese you said to put but I did have some mozzarella, which came out yummy but next time I will use halloum which I can find here in Canada .

    • mwolowicz July 14, 2014 at 08:56 #

      Dear taly,

      Thank you for visiting the blog, and thank you for your comment. I am happy the recipe turned out good for you, please let us know how many tequeños did you get from the recipe. Also, share pictures if you have any.

      MW

  17. Sarah Honnor September 24, 2014 at 11:35 #

    Yummy looks delicious! Will try them TODAY! Thanks

    • mwolowicz September 24, 2014 at 12:20 #

      Dear Sarah,

      Thank you for visiting the blog and for your comment. If you do end up trying this recipe today, please report back and share how many Tequeños where you able to make from this recipe, and share your own photo if you can :)

      Enjoy!

      MW

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