I was first introduced to Pão de Queijo by one of my Brazilian friends, and I wanted to try making it because after all, who doesn’t like bread and cheese? Crispy outside but soft and chewy inside, this is a perfect snack or breakfast food. It’s also free of gluten – its biggest difference from any other kind of bread is that it is supposed to be made with sour cassava flour instead of all-purpose flour. However, sour cassava is typically hard to find in most other countries, so our best bet is to use tapioca flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill finely ground tapioca flour). The insides are kind of hollow, so you shouldn’t expect something like a dinner roll. The cheese flavor is present most in the middle, so pick your cheeses wisely! I was told that using only Parmesan cheese would be a bad idea as it would make the end product too dry. So I decided to use a mixture of half-parmesan and half-Mozzarella, so as to make it more moist. If you like stronger flavors, I would suggest using sharp Cheddar in the cheese mixture as well.
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (10 ounces) tapioca flour or sour cassava flour
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup Mozzarella cheese
- 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking pan with parchment and set aside.
- Combine the milk, oil, and salt in the saucepan, and whisking occasionally, bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as you see big bubbles coming through the milk.
- Add all of the tapioca flour to the saucepan and stir until you see no more dry tapioca flour. The dough will be grainy and gelatinous at this point.
- Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed until it smooths out and has cooled enough that you can hold your finger against the dough for several seconds.
- Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. With the mixer on medium, beat the eggs into the dough in two additions. Wait until the first addition has been fully incorporated into the dough before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer on medium, beat in the cheese until fully incorporated. The resulting dough will be very sticky, stretchy, and soft with a consistency between cake batter and cooke dough.
- Using an ice cream scoop, a tablespoon measure, or a dinner spoon, scoop rounded portions of the dough into mounds on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Space the mounds an inch or two apart. Dip your scoop in water to prevent sticking.
- Transfer the sheet with the puffs to the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 350°F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the puffs have puffed, the outsides are dry, and they are just starting to color. Cool briefly and eat. Leftover puffs can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week and re-crisped in a warm oven or toaster oven.