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Pao de queijo

I had these cute puffy cheese bread the first time in Summer 2013, when a Brazilian girl rented my then-roommate’s room for the summer. She made these one day and offered me some. Holy smoking goodness it was good! They look so darn cute and more importantly, they’re oozing with cheesy deliciousness. They’re kind of similar to the pate a choux used to make cream puffs/ profiteroles/ gougeres, but the inside of these puffs are more chewy due to the tapioca starch.

My first attempt to make these was just A-Okay, because there was something off about the ratio (I didn’t have a scale, so I converted to US cups….)  and I didn’t put enough cheese/ salt. This recipe was adapted from The Kitchn, and adjusted to my liking.

YIELD: 26 medium (1.5 inch) puffs.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups tapioca starch (see note).
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil/ vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 – 1.5 cups of grated Parmesan.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Set the oven at 375F.
  2. Put the milk, oil, and salt in a sauce pan, bring them to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when bubbles rise.
  3. Put the tapioca flour in a grease bowl. Pour the boiled mixture over the flour, mix with a wooden spoon until there’s no more dry flour. Mixture will be gritty and gelatinous.
  4. Cool for 5-7 minutes, until you can touch the dough for several seconds. Glove up (optional), spray your glove/ hand with baking spray, and knead the dough for a few minutes, until the mixture is smooth and become a dough ball.
  5. Knead in the beaten egg in 2 part: pour half of the egg, knead until incorporated, add the rest, knead until incorporated. Spray your gloves as needed.
  6. Mix in the cheese until incorporated. Mixture will be soft, very sticky, and gritty.
  7. Grease a melon baller and use this to scoop the dough into balls and onto a baking sheets lined with parchment paper (I needed two sheets). Keep them about 1.5 inches apart.  It’s okay if they’re not perfectly round since they will puff up in the oven.
  8. Place sheets in oven, reduce the heat to 350 F. Bake for 25 minutes, rotate the sheets front to back, and rack to rack in between. You might have to adjust your time, depending on your oven. They’re done when they’re puffed (!), the outside is dry, and the bottom just starts to brown.
  9. Cool for a few minutes on a cooling rack. Serve warm.

NOTES:

  • I used Bob Mill’s Tapioca flour. I’m not sure if the tapioca starch sold in Asian markets will give the same result.
  • They’re best when warm. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in a fridge, but after 2-3 days I found them to be kind of dry. I think it’s better to freeze the unbaked dough in ball-sized portion, and bake them from frozen as needed.
  • In the photo, they’re more yellow than they’re supposed to be because I left them in the oven a few minutes longer than needed (I blamed my hungry cat meowing for food…) They’re usually lighter in color.

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