Though my specialty is home-cooked Mexican cuisine, I love lots of other international foods. As a result, I’m always trying something new in my kitchen. If you’ve ever eaten at a Brazilian restaurant (especially a Brazilian steakhouse), you may have had these addicting little light and fluffy cheese rolls called pão de queijo. I loved them so much after having them the first time that I went on a quest to try to reproduce them in my own kitchen. This is my own recipe after playing with close to a dozen other recipes and tweaking elements of each to my liking.
Tapioca or cassava flour is fairly easy to find in most stores that carry organic or ethnic groceries. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are two national grocery chains that typically carry tapioca flour.
My husband requests these frequently, and though I like to pretend they’re a lot of work so he thinks they’re an extra-special treat, the truth is that they’re very simple!
Bonus: this recipe is also gluten-free.
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of milk (whichever kind you prefer; I usually use 2%)
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- A 1-pound package of tapioca flour (450 g)
- 2 to 3 eggs (2 if they’re large or extra large; 3 if they’re small)
- 7 ounces (a little less than half a pound or 200 grams) of grated parmesan cheese. You can use freshly grated or to save time, Kraft Parmesan cheese from the canister works fine, too.
1. In a big pan, bring the water, milk, oil and salt to a boil.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tapioca flour. Mix well with a wooden spoon and let it cool down.
3. Put the mixture in a bowl, add the eggs and knead well. Dough will be extremely sticky.
4. Add the grated cheese little by little and keep kneading until the dough is smooth.
5. Roll 1 tablespoon of mixture into small balls. Tip: Grease your hands with a little vegetable oil before making the dough into balls. Wash your hands once in a while if necessary.
6. Place the balls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper for baking.
7. Bake the cheese rolls in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden on top.
8. To serve, put the cheese rolls in a basket covered with a cloth to keep warm.
Yields 2-3 dozen rolls depending on how large you make them.
Freeze all rolls that you will not cook immediately in an airtight container and heat to eat fresh out of the oven. You can heat them directly from freezer to oven; it just takes a few extra minutes to cook. They’ll stay fresh for up to 8 weeks in the freezer.
Maura Hernandez is a Chicago based journalist and photographer who loves to travel…and eat! She blogs about traditional Mexican cooking, culture and travel at The Other Side of The Tortilla.
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