With a blog constantly in need of filling, you can bet that we’re always on the lookout for interesting new recipes. You wouldn’t think that a preschool would be a hotbed of gourmet food, but when my son’s Brazilian preschool teacher, Anna, brought a basket of delicious, crusty, chewy, cheesy bread balls to a school party, I didn’t hesitate to pester her for the recipe. Turns out they were Pão de Queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread.
Because they’re made with tapioca flour, these beauties, which are similar to a gougeres or cheese popovers, are gluten-free. The best part is that they are insanely easy to make and loved by grown up food snobs and picky young tykes alike.
There are several methods for making pão de queijo, including one that is similar to the method for making French gougeres, in which the dough is cooked on the stovetop prior to baking, and Anna’s method, which involves a thick dough that is shaped into balls by hand. After many delicious experiments, I’ve settled on this method, which has you put all of the ingredients into a blender, then pour the batter into a greased mini-muffin tin. It’s just so incredibly easy—sacrificing nothing in terms of flavor or texture—that once I tried it, there was no going back.
Anna makes her pão de queijo with cotija, an aged Mexican cheese, but I like them best with a sharp, white cheddar. I’m sure they’d be great with just about any flavorful cheese such as Parmesan, feta, or gruyere.
- 1 large egg
- ⅔ cup milk (1%, 2%, or Whole)
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1¼ cups tapioca flour*
- 4 ounces grated cheese (sharp white cheddar, cotija, parmesan, or whatever you choose)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Chili powder, paprika, or other spice for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and spray a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray.
- Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin, filling each well about two-thirds full, and sprinkle with a bit of chili powder or other spice, if using. Bake in the preheated oven for about 14 to 15 minutes, until the breads puff up and turn a light golden brown. Transfer to a basket or serving platter and serve warm.