Brazilian Cheese Bread


There are two things I feel when shopping at my regular supermarket (ie not Trader Joe's or Whole Foods): bored and hungry. Mostly because my regular supermarket is for all of the necessities like paper towels and detergent and because I almost always go when I'm starving. 

While browsing the frozen foods aisle one bored and hungry trip, I came across pão de quejio or Brazilian cheese bread. Since I love cheese and I love bread, this was a no brainer for my once-I-unpack-the-groceries-snack... until I read the ingredients. Tapioca flour, salt, cheese. Yes, I am one of those avid ingredient readers, but given that I already had a bag of tapioca flour just waiting to be used up at home, I decided to just make them myself. 

If you've never had pão de quejio, they are similar to cheese puffs, and are slightly crispy on the outside, hollow, chewy and cheesy on the inside. The real flavor comes from the type of cheese used, and really, any hard cheese will do, whether it's parmesan, monterey, jack, cheddar, or a combination. They are definitely worth picking up some tapioca flour for (which you can get much cheaper at said boring supermarket) to make them, but I must warn you, they are highly addictive, especially when they are fresh out of the oven. I almost always exceed my limit of just three...

Brazilian Cheese Breads (Pão de Quejio)
adapted from thekitchn
printable recipe here

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups tapioca flour
2 eggs, whisked
1- 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (you can use any hard cheese like parmesan, monterey jack, or mix of cheeses depending on the flavor you desire. You can also use up to 2 cups of cheese if your like me and really love cheese...)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, whisk the the milk, olive oil, and salt, over medium heat. Once it comes to a gentle boil, immediately remove it from the heat. 

Add the tapioca flour to the saucepan, and mix until fully combined with the milk and oil, and the tapioca flour becomes gelatinous. 

Transfer the dough to a food processor with the dough blade, or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Let the dough cool down a bit and then beat an a medium speed until smooth.  (I use a food processor with no problems.)  

Once the dough has cooled and still on a medium speed, add the whisked eggs in two additions, until fully incorporated.

Finally, with the mixer on a medium speed, add the cheese until fully combined. The resulting dough will be smooth and very sticky. 

Scoop out equal portions on to the baking tray, about an inch apart from each other. If you wish, you can cover the pão with cling wrap and freeze them right on the baking tray. Once they are frozen, you can store them in a freezer bag and bake them at a later time. 

Place in the oven and turn the temperature down to 350 degrees. Let the puffs bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the puffs are dry and crisp on the outside and slightly golden in color. Cool slightly and eat. The pão are best right out of the oven as they became very chewy (yet still delicious over time.) They can however, be reheated in the oven for a few minutes. 

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