The very first time I had these little cheesy, puffy breads was at one of my local coffee shops, O Cafe (they make a mean cup of coffee, by the way — which should be a reminder that I have been meaning to do a Coffee Crawl in my neighborhood to write about).
I saw them coming out of the oven. They looked like cute little popovers. Of course, I immediately wanted to make them. (I wanted to eat them first, obvs.)
Pão de Queijo is Brazilian Cheese Bread, more akin to gougères than bread, in my opinion. The wonderful thing about these guys is that you don’t have to make a pate a choux, and while I found some pão recipes that started with a pate a choux base, my favorite involves a blender, mini muffin tins, and a toaster oven.
Real Pão de Queijo is more chewy than crunchy. I prefer mine a bit on the overcooked side (toast brown rather than light brown on the outside), with a hint of chew in the center.
I have to say —I love the instant gratification of cooking. Even if you tinker around and try various versions of a recipe, we are talking hours here instead of days/weeks until you get what you want.
And guess what? Tinker I did.
My favorite basic recipe comes from Simply Recipes and is linked here. This recipe produces a really light, slightly cheesy puff. I love the recommendation to use queso fresco, or farm cheese, as well. You can use any sort of cheese, including that bit of parmesan that may be going rock hard in the refrigerator.
Here are my modifications (I really should change the name of this blog to Twisted and Modified!):
Twisted Not Quite Brazilian Pão de Queijo
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1-1/3 cup milk, I use whatever is on hand and today I have 2% milk
- Scant 3 cups (340 grams) tapioca flour — I always weigh when I’m baking, rather than use volume measures.
- 1 cup (130 grams) crumbled blue cheese, I like gorgonzola.
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt – watch the salt and adjust with the saltiness of the cheese. I will salt heavily (~3tsp) if I am using farm cheese, but with blue cheese, am lighter.
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- generous grind of black pepper
Yield: ~6 batches in mini muffin tins. The batter is doubled vs. the original recipe. Batter can be stored refrigerated (the original recipe says up to a week, I’ve never stored this batter for that long), make sure it is blended/shaken before using again.
- Preheat toaster oven to 400°F. (You can clearly do bigger batches in the oven.)
- Put all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth and well blended
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until all puffy and browned. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for a few minutes.
They are perfect with a glass of champers. They are gluten free, although chock full of dairy.