Category Archives: Pão de Queijo

Making Pão de Queijo

Pão de queijo (pãos de queijo?) are a lot like gougères, but with a little less fat and zero gluten. Why’s that? Because they’re made from tapioca starch, a derivative of the cassava root, not wheat flour. This gives them a somewhat different texture, like a soft wheat bun when cool, like a hot air ballon made of molten cheese when warm. They’re really quite a delicious experience either way, no wonder they’re one of the national foods of Brazil.

Be advised that there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about pão de queijo. Believe me. I’ve suffered from it all week long. Just get yourself some tapioca starch (a powdery white flour available at most health food stores or your local Whole Foods), follow the below instructions and you’ll do just fine. These things really are incredibly easy when you know how.

Traditionally they’re made using a semi-firm cheese from Brazil called Minas. That cheese is nigh impossible to get here in the States. Parmesan is commonly used as a substitute, but Mexican Cojita is far closer in flavor and can be found at most Mexican markets. But really any semi-firm cheese will work. Below I used Manchego and the results were fantastic. Anyway, begin by preheating your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the water, milk and oil in a small saucepan.

Don’t forget the salt!

Bring the mixture to the boil…

…and pour it over the tapioca flour.

Stir or whisk that mess together until the starch is gluey and gelatinized. It will be quite thick. A wooden spoon would have been a better choice here. Allow this mixture to cool completely.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and cheese.

Until it’s about like this.

When the tapioca mixture is cool, combine that and the cheese mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (you can do the mixing by hand if you want, but a mixer will do it faster and more consistently…it will also incorporate more air).

Beat for about 90 seconds or so until the batter is uniform and fluffy.

Spoon the mixture onto an un-greased sheet pan, about two tablespoons per dollop.

Bake them for about 30 – 40 minutes until golden.

Quite light and fluffy on the inside, see? Warm, they’re meltingly delicious.

This recipe makes about 20. Leftover baked puffs can be frozen, through there won’t be any. The best of all possibly freezing strategies is to freeze the batter/dough dollops themselves and put them in bags. They can go straight from the freezer to the oven.

Special thanks to reader Bronwyn for her help and insights! Also many thanks to reader Monika, a professional Brazilian pão de queijo maker, who weighed in with some truly excellent ideas.

Filed under:  Pão de Queijo, Pastry | 38 Comments

Pão de Queijo Recipe

One of the more interesting quirks of the human brain (or at least MY human brain) is that once it starts down a path with the wrong set of assumptions it doesn’t return easily to the right track, even if that track is relatively easy to get onto. So it was with me and pão de queijo. Squaring the right technique (since there are at least three possibles) with the right cassava product (since there are at least three of those as well) took me the better part of a week. Thankfully with a little help from some of my readers I finally arrived at the right recipe, cassava flour and technique. Whew! You’ll need:

4 ounces (1/2 cup) water
4 ounces (1/2 cup) milk
2 ounces (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 ounces (2 cups) tapioca starch
2 eggs
2-3 ounces finely grated cheese (parmesan is common Mexican Cotija is best)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the liquids and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, put the tapioca starch in a medium bowl. In another bowl grate the cheese and whisk it together with the eggs. When the milk mixture is boiling, pour it over the starch and beat it vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a gelatinous paste. Let it cool completely. When cool, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the cheese/egg mixture (you can do this by hand, but the mixer is easier and more thorough) and beat on medium-high for about 90 seconds until the mixture is uniform and fluffy. Spoon roughly 2-tablespoon-sized quantities onto a sheet pan and bake 30-40 minutes until golden. Eat warm!

Filed under:  Pão de Queijo, Pastry | 18 Comments