Photo by Akiko Aoki via Getty Images

You need this Brazilian cheese bread in your life

Rebecca Firkser
January 18, 2018

If there is one flavor combination of which I’ll never tire, it’s bread and cheese. The possibilities are infinite, and I’m not just talking about brie versus cheddar and whole wheat versus sourdough. I’m thinking about snacks like crispy cheese straws, buttery gougeres, and puffy pão de queijo. Though this Brazilian cheese bread is made with tapioca or cassava starch instead of wheat flour (yes, it's gluten-free to boot), the result is an airy, slightly chewy puff made just salty enough with cheese grated right into the dough. 

To make a batch of pão de queijo, place ½ cup whole milk, ½ cup water, ½ cup vegetable oil or butter, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.

As soon as the mixture begins to boil, stir in 2 cups tapioca or cassava flour until completely combined.  

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the dough at medium speed for about 30 seconds-1 minute, then beat in 1 egg until fully incorporated. Beat in another egg and continue to mix until fully incorporated. 

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in 1 cup of either Parmesan, farmer cheese, or mozzarella cheese (or a blend of all 3) until fully combined.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 

Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or your hands, portion out dough balls and place them on the sheet pan about 2 inches apart.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350ºF. Bake the pão de queijo for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped with your finger.

For an experience similar to a cream puff, pão de queijo can be stuffed. Traditional fillings are melted guava paste or smooth dulce de leche. 

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