In my defense, I am a BAD Brazilian…..if you can call that a defense. Actually, I am only half Brazilian. I tried to get in touch with my Brazilian half, by trying out one of my favorite snacks: pao de queijo, which literally translates to “bread of cheese”. They are wonderful airy cheese bread balls that are a traditional Brazilian snack….at least where my family is from (Mato Grosso du Sul, Brazil). Oh yeah, and they are gluten free! I have been to Brazil several times when I was younger, and I intend to go again next year for the World Cup! Brazilian food has been in my life for a while, but until recently, I have never cooked it myself. I have always relied on my mom to make everything, but I think it is time I got in touch with my heritage the best way I know how; with food!
The process did not go smoothly. This was the first time I had ever used tapioca flour. For those who don’t know, tapioca flour is the starch that comes from the yucca root. When hot liquid is added it becomes thick and sticky. I did not know this until I was in the middle of making the pao de queijo. It made mixing the dough very difficult……very…
This was my first attempt. There was a lot of stopping, scraping the dough off the beaters, then scraping the dough of the spoon, mixing for 30 seconds, and starting the scraping process again. Very difficult. Pieces of dough would fly off the beaters and splatter the kitchen as I tried to get the dough to a smooth consistency. What I thought would take a couple of minutes ended up taking at least 15 min. In the end, I got it to a decent consistency. More like cookie dough rather than bread dough.
After they baked this is what they looked like.
The color was uneven because of the size of the shredded cheese. The middle had some air pockets like it is supposed to, but they were way too chewy. Eventually, they all deflated.
I actually tried this recipe twice already. After the first time making it, I thought I hadn’t let the mixture cool enough before I started to mix everything together, and maybe that was the reason the tapioca flour didn’t firm up. I also thought that maybe just shredded cheese was too big. Maybe a more fine crumble would be better to make the dough more dough-y. I used a Mexican cheese called cotija instead of Parmesan. I also decided to mix the ingredients with my hand instead of the hand mixer. It was definitely easier to mix by had as long has you have the other ingredients near by.
In the end, I did end up with a similar product. Half ended up not deflating. I think it was because they were nearer to the heat in the oven. Not quite sure. But this is what it ended up looking like:
You know that saying: “Insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results”? I think that is my problem. Maybe I need a new recipe. Maybe from a real Brazilian too. If there are any Brazilian’s reading my blog, feel free to send me your pao de queijo recipe. My mom gets back from her trip to Brazil this week, I think I will ask her for a recipe……I probably should have done that from the beginning. Oh well. Another lesson learned.
- Ask your Brazilian mom for a Brazilian recipe. Duh!
- Mix pao de queijo dough by hand.
- This recipe didn’t work out.
If you want to try it out, here is the recipe. If you get a different result, let me know what I did wrong!
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups tapioca flour
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cups hard cheese (Parmesan or cotija)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Combine milk, oil, and salt together in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Be careful not to let the milk burn.
- When bubbles come through the milk mixture, take it off the heat. Combine tapioca flour and milk mixture in a medium bowl. Use a strong spoon to mix it together. It will be clumpy and grainy. Let the mixture cool.
- When the dough has cooled enough to handle, knead the dough until it comes together and becomes smooth.
- Mix in 1 egg at a time. Make sure the egg is completely incorporated into the dough before adding the next.
- Mix in the cheese.
- Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a spoon to put 2" diameter pieces of dough a couple inches apart. Dip the spoon in water between scooping. It is easier to handle the dough.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the exterior is lightly brown. Try not to open the oven while they are baking either. I have a suspicion that is why mine deflated.
- Let pao de queijo cool for a few minutes, but eat them warm. The flavor and texture are best when slightly warm.
(adapted from The Kitchn)