Our tour of Brazil continues. After posting the moqueca recipe, several of you asked if I had a recipe for Pão de Queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread, sort of like a chewy cheese puff made with tapioca flour. As a matter of fact, I do. My friend Bill gave me this recipe years ago, a favorite from his Brazilian wife Silvia. I’ve made it several times, each time with different cheeses. Talk about addictive! I’ve cut Bill’s original recipe down to just a third, because if I actually made a full batch (48) I could conceivably eat them all.
There are several ways to make Pão de Queijo. One method includes cooked potatoes. One method is sort of like a pâte a choux in which you cook the dough first. The quickest, easiest, short-cut method is what I describe here (and the only way some of my Brazilian friends make it). You put the ingredients in a blender. Pour them out into a mini-muffin tin, and bake. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make a big batch of batter and just store it in the refrigerator (for up to a week), pouring out just as many mini-muffins as you want to eat. You can even cook them in a toaster oven.
The only weird ingredient is tapioca flour. Bob’s Red Mill makes it, and you can find it at Whole Foods. Tapioca flour is gluten-free, so this cheese bread is great for gluten-free eaters.
The recipe as presented is fairly basic. Feel free to dress it up a bit with herbs or spices of your choice.
- 1 egg*
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup milk
- Scant 1 1/2 cups (170 grams) tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup (packed, about 66 grams) grated cheese, your preference, though we got the best results from Mexican farmer's cheese - queso fresco
- 1 teaspoon of salt (or more to taste)
Special equipment recommended:
- One or two mini muffin tins. Mini muffin tins are about half the size of a regular muffin pan. The muffin openings are about 1-inch deep, and 1 3/4 inch wide at the top.
*It helps when baking with eggs to start with eggs at room temperature. If you don't plan ahead (that would be me, usually) you can put the egg in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to gently take off the chill of the fridge.
1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a mini-muffin tin. Put all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. You may need to use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender so that everything gets blended well. At this point you can store the batter in the refrigerator for up to a week.
2 Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until all puffy and just lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for a few minutes.
Eat while warm or save to reheat later.
Note that Brazilian cheese bread is very chewy, a lot like Japanese mochi.