Anyone who has lived in Brazil knows and loves this cheese bread called pão de queijo. It is an addictive, gorgeous little ball of outside crust, with an ooey gooey, cheesy inside. And it is so much easier to make than people think that I thought I would share the recipe and prove it.
So, if you know pão de queijo and were too intimidated to make it, or even if you’ve never heard of it but want to try something amazingly, deliciously, and quite honestly NOT low-cal, this is the recipe for you!
What makes this bread completely different from any other bread you may have tasted is that it is not made with wheat flour. It is made with manioc flour (or tapioca starch), which in Portuguese we call polvilho.
There are two varieties of polvilho in Brazil, known respectively as the sour and sweet versions. The sweet is often used to make sweet cookies and biscuits. The sour is usually used for this cheese bread.
Goya makes a manioc flour, and many grocery stores now carry tapioca starch, so the ingredients are not hard to find. This is the brand I use, but I find it much more affordably in my local Asian grocery store.
Start by combining the liquid ingredients and the salt into a sauce pan. Make it a big enough sauce pan to add the manioc flour later, so you don’t have to dirty an additional mixing bowl.
Let the mixture just come to a rolling boil and immediately turn off the flame and add the manioc flour, stirring it until there is no dry flour left.
The consistency is a little grainy.
Put it into a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment while still very hot. Mix for a few minutes so that it cools enough to touch and to take it from a grainy to a slightly lumpy but smoother texture.
With the mixer still running, scramble the two eggs in a bowl and add a little at a time so that it can be completely incorporated.
Then add the Parmesan and the mozzarella. Make sure everything is well blended.
Your dough is now ready to roll. Please note the texture. One of the reasons this bread can be intimidating is that this is a wet, tacky, gooey dough that will coat your hands, making rolling the bread balls a bit of a challenge.
Here’s a tip
Fill a medium-sized bowl with ice cubes and water. Dampen your hands in the bowl (not dripping wet), and roll the dough into balls somewhere in size between a ping pong and a golf ball. You may need to re-dampen every other roll. You can coat your hands in butter, but that adds more fat and it can cause your rolls to cook darker and faster on the outside while the inside may still be under-cooked.
Keep in mind, it is important to keep the balls as evenly-sized as possible so they all bake evenly. I use a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop as a measuring guide to scoop out the dough for each ball.
Line them up on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Leave some space because these babies puff up a little during baking.
Bake in a pre-heated 400° F oven until golden brown.
Oh! Just look at them, begging to be inhaled. And oh my gosh, the kitchen smells amazing.
The little secret about this bread is that the inside is sinfully stretchy and cheesy. But it is only that way when eaten right out of the oven. When they come to room temperature, the consistency becomes spongier.
Don’t get me wrong, they taste the same after they cool, it is just a texture thing. And trust me, even when the texture changes, it does not discourage anyone from eating the leftovers. All of my guys are capable of sitting down with a Ziploc bag of these and polishing off a handful or more at a time.
You can even pop them in a microwave to warm them up, but be careful because they heat up fast.
I really had to twist Steve’s arm to model this shot for me. As soon as it was done, he was like “well, I’ll just have to sacrifice and eat this one now”. And then he carried off another two on the way back to his home office.
Yum yum yum yum yum…
Happy happy happy…
Guilty guilty guilty… but happy happy happy
Give it a shot, guys. You won’t regret it!
- 2 cups manioc flour (tapioca starch)
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese
- Pre-heat the oven to 400° F.
- Combine the milk, water, oil and salt.
- Over medium heat, bring just to a rolling boil and remove immediately from flame.
- Add the manioc flour and stir until all the flour has been moistened.
- Transfer to a mixer bowl.
- Using the paddle attachment, mix for a few minutes until the dough no longer looks grainy. It might be a little lumpy but will look much smoother. The mixture should have cooled enough to add the eggs.
- With the mixer running, scramble the eggs in a bowl and slowly add it to the mixer bowl.
- Mix until everything is fully incorporated.
- Add the Parmesan and then the mozzarella.
- Again, mix until everything is fully incorporated.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough into balls somewhere in size between a ping pong and a golf ball and place them on the cookie sheet.
- TIP: To keep the tacky dough from coating your hands, dampen your hands with ice water. Do not get them dripping wet. You may need to re-moisten after every other roll.
- Place in the center rack of the oven.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the bread is a golden brown in color.
- Serve hot.