I’ve been a bit busy as of late – gallivanting around the globe reaching Ireland, England, and New Zealand. So I’ve been very bad and ignored posting on here and partaking in the Daring Kitchen challenges only on whims. But, life should calm down shortly so I’m back and bringing you a lovely new recipe from the heart of Brazil – Pao de Queso.
Pao de Queso is a lovely bread made out of quite a lot of cheese, that is crusty on the outside, gooey on the inside, and especially delicious fresh out of the oven. The hardest part of this recipe is finding one of the main ingredients – tapioca starch. If you don’t live in the United States this may be easy for you to find, but I went to 6 stores before I found it. I kept thinking that the next store might have a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Tapioca Starch, because that does exist, but unfortunately that was not the case. However, there is this magical place called…Uwajimaya. It’s a fabulous Asian specialty market. And they did have the Bob’s Tapioca Starch, but they also had tapioca starch labeled primarily in a language I can’t read for 98 cents a bag. Yes, you read that right, 98 cents a bag. Small bags, each about 3 cups, but the price was great so I got 2. If you’re looking for tapioca starch I highly recommend seeing what your local Asian market has in stock.
4 cups tapioca starch
1 cup milk
2 3/4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded cheese (I used a mixture of monterrey jack and cheddar cheeses)
1-3 eggs (my batch used 2)
1. In a small pan, heat the butter, milk, and salt until just simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, measure out your tapioca flour.
3. Pour the slightly cooled liquid mixture into the tapioca flour and stir with a spatula. It won’t want to come together well, it’ll be lumpy, and a lot of the flour will still be dry. Keep stirring and try to work as many lumps out as possible.
4. Add the cheese and mix well – this works best if you work with your hands.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well. I often ignore this step in recipes and add all the eggs, but for this one it’s actually important because you want the dough firm enough to roll into balls. 1 egg to few and the dough will be to powdery for this, 1 to many and you’ll have to even it with more tapioca flour. Here’s a picture of what my dough looked like when I started shaping balls.
6. Roll the dough into small balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Leave some room between dough balls because they will puff up a bit.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The bread should be puffy and just starting to brown on the bottom – if you cook them longer they start to get tough and a bit hard to eat.
These were delicious, and that’s coming from someone who generally decries “baking” without flour as a sham. I was going to try making them into little sandwiches, but the batch I made barely lasted an evening with my friends – they almost all got eaten straight out of the oven. One thing I will say is these little darlings are better off hot or at least warm. If you’re munching on one a day or two after baking try popping it in a microwave for 30 seconds to warm up the cheesy insides. The remind me a little of gougeres which are cream puffs made with cheese which I’ve made before with stronger cheeses and fresh herbs. That is a wonderful variation which I can’t wait to try with this recipe, especially since this dough is much easier to whip up than a pate a choux!
Thanks go out to Renata who provided this challenge: This month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us on a trip to beautiful Brazil! Renata of “Testado, Provado & Aprovado!” taught us how to make Pao De Queijo, tasty cheese buns that make the perfect snack or treat, and that will make your taste buds samba!