Pão de queijo is a popular cheese bun in Brazil. It’s made from tapioca (cassava) flour so it is a gluten-free bread. Not that I am on a gluten-free diet, but I think it is good to know. My husband wants to eat healthier foods nowadays. I’ve had some tasty gluten-free foods and it’s fun to experiment with it. I’ll be posting my gluten-free recipe experiments pretty soon.
A couple of years ago, I encountered pão de queijo at Fogo de Chao, a Churrascaria (Brazilian Steakhouse) in Beverly Hills. We were celebrating my grandparents-in-law anniversary and their birthdays. For many of us in the family, it was our first time at a churrascaria. After discovering the cheese balls that were almost hidden in the cloth-lined basket, I ate quite of few of them. So did my mom. The parade of meat and the sides were great, but I really enjoyed the cheese buns probably more than anything that I tasted there. Chewy, light and densely cheesy. So addictive!
I knew I had to have those buns again one day. I’ve seen recipes online and they did not look very complicated. So I decided to give it a try. The first time I made it, I used a recipe that produced a batter-like dough and it was still pretty good and very easy, but not as good that I thought it could be. This time, I tried a recipe with a pâte a choux-like dough, and it was awesome! I like the texture of it much better.
Here, I used the recipe from Yumsugar.com at http://www.yumsugar.com/52-Weeks-Baking-Brazilian-Cheese-Bread-280828
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 cups (10 ounces) tapioca flour
2 large eggs
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, but I used Celtic cheese (from Trader Joes). I think any hard cheese would do, so feel free to experiment!
Since there was only two of us to eat the cheese buns, I halved the recipe. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the milk, water, oil, and salt to a boil. Take it off the heat. I used my off-kilter wonky whisk.
Get your tapioca flour! I bought mine at an oriental market.
With a wooden spoon or high-heat safe spatula, mix in the tapioca flour as fast and as gingerly as you can. I say gingerly, because some flour flew out as I was mixing it. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.
It would be easier to put the dough into a bowl before proceeding, but I didn’t want to clean another dish. Add the eggs and knead it in well until combined. Here, I only put in one egg because I halved the recipe.
It will be a stickier now. Note: it is important to not let the dough at any point sit out too long because the tapioca flour and the liquids will separate, leaving a liquid mess. So once you start the recipe, don’t go away from the kitchen.
This is the Celtic cheese that I used. Add your cheese to the dough.
Knead it again until combined. Pretty sticky! Before forming the balls, rub some oil on your clean hands so that it doesn’t feel too sticky. Take about a tablespoon or however big you want, form it into a ball, and place on a greased and/or parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for ~25 minutes. I checked mine at the half-way mark and rotated the pan. They should be golden-brown and you will see lovely flecks of melted cheese.
Serve them warm. They are stretchy inside! Pão de Queijo tend to get too soft hours later, though you can revive them in the toaster oven. A microwave oven will make them either stay soft or if you microwave it too long it will become hard.
If you don’t want to make too many cheese buns at a time, you could also freeze them raw. After you’ve formed them into balls, wrap them up and put them in the freezer. Don’t let them sit or they will liquify. When you are ready to bake, put the frozen balls straight into a greased pan and bake them. They may take a bit longer to bake, but you will be minutes from fresh cheesy buns! I have some in my freezer right now, as a matter of fact.
I would like to know, if you had Pão de Queijo before, how do you eat it? Do you eat it by itself as a snack or accompanied by a meal? Are you supposed to eat it a certain way?