When my husband and I got married (oh so many years ago, it seems!), we went to an all-inclusive resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico (just north of Puerto Vallarta) for our honeymoon. I am kind of in love with that place! My favorite memories of that trip are walking along the beach in the middle of the night with the smell of blossoms in the air, our amazing sand dollar adventure (literally hundreds of live ones all in one spot), and eating some good Brazilian churrasco (I know – Brazilian food in Mexico….. but hey, it is what it is). Man, I’d better stop reminiscing because now I’m just wanting to drop everything I’m doing and go back right now!
Anyway, I ramble…..the reason I even thought about this is because every time I make these Brazilian Cheese Rolls (Pão de Queijo), it reminds me of that trip. These rolls are delicious and addictive little nuggets of chewy goodness! The thing about these cheese rolls that make them really different from any other roll is the use of tapioca flour for the base. In their most simplistic form, these cheese rolls can be made in a blender like this version at Simplyrecipes.com. I’m dying to try this method because it looks so fast and easy.
The recipe that I’m giving you today is our favorite (to-date) gourmet version that has come after a lot of trial and error. This method uses a technique of partially cooking the dough before adding the eggs and cheese, kind of similar to pâte a choux. This version is chewy on the inside, crusty on the outside. Although Brazilian cheese bread is traditionally made solely of tapioca flour, we add a little all-purpose flour in this version to achieve this result. I like me some crusty bread! (If you are looking for a gluten-free version, just see the recipe notes to easily make that change.)
One more quick note: I highly recommend using this particular brand and type of Queso Fresco: Cacique Ranchero. We have used other brands or even different styles of the Cacique brand, but somehow this one just always turns out better! We also love adding a good dose of Parmesan cheese to give it a nice zing of cheesy flavor!
Be careful when making these! It has been, ahem, reported that consumption of the whole batch by one or two people in one sitting is highly likely……..
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup canola oil
- Dash of salt
- 1 cup tapioca flour
- ⅓ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup crumbled queso fresco, packed (I recommend Cacique Ranchero brand)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese, packed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray.
- Combine milk, water, oil and salt in a medium pot.
- In a small bowl, combine tapioca flour and all-purpose flour and stir until well-blended. Set aside.
- On the stove, over medium heat, warm up milk mixture until it just begins a low boil. Remove from heat immediately.
- With a wooden spoon, stir flour mixture into milk mixture as fast as possible until mixture is all moistened and forms a sticky ball (mixture will be very sticky!). Set aside until cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes).
- Transfer dough to a large bowl, and, using hands, knead the egg into the dough.
- Add cheeses and knead until well-incorporated. Dough will appear slightly lumpy.
- Lightly coat your hands with canola oil (I like to have a small bowl of it sitting by for me to coat my hands as needed during this process).
- Form dough into rounded one-inch balls and drop one in each muffin tin.
- Bake for about 29-32 minutes, or until golden brown.
Eliminate the all-purpose flour, and increase the tapioca flour from 1 cup to approximately 1¼ cups. (Tapioca flour absorbs more moisture, so when substituting for all-purpose flour, you need to scale it down a little).
Change it Up:
Substitute a different type of your favorite hard cheese for the Parmesan (such as Romano or Asiago).
Use all Queso Fresco (will tone the flavor down as this cheese is very mild), or all Parmesan. You will most likely need to make some minor adjustments on your flour and cooking time, (up and down, respectively), as altering the amount of Queso Fresco will change the moisture content in the recipe.