These gluten-free, grain-free, and super kid-friendly cheese puffs, known in Brazil as pão de queijo, are perfect party fare. Slightly crusty on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, Brazilian cheese puffs make an excellent starter to a dinner party, an ideal afternoon snack, or fun cocktail party bite. And like any bread treat, though they can certainly stand alone, they can also become the perfect pillow pockets for some fun additions. Try varying by stuffing with a bit of a second cheese — like mozzarella — or perhaps some browned spicy sausage.
Makes about 6 dozen small cheese puffs
½ cup canola oil
1⁄3 cup water
1⁄3 cup milk
1 ¾ cups doce (or sweet)tapioca starch
or manioc flour*
¼ cup azedo (or sour) tapioca starch*
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 ½ cups freshly grated Sardo (Argentine Parmesan), Parmesan, or pecorino Romano cheese
*Available in large supermarkets or in Latin-style markets. If you can’t find the “azedo” starch, just use “doce.”
Preheat the oven to 375ËšF. In a medium saucepan, combine the oil, water, and milk and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, combine the starches into a large bowl. When the liquid has boiled, add it to the starch and mix well. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Then stir in the eggs and the cheese.
Form into balls, about the circumference of a half dollar. Place them an inch apart on parchment paper-covered sheet pans. Bake in the top rack of the oven, until they start to brown on the bottom, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Keep remaining (if you have any left!) cheese puffs in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat, wrapped in a paper towel, for about 15 seconds in the microwave.
PRO TIP: Make Ahead
Once you’ve formed your cheese puffs, you can bake them up to three days later, or you can freeze (store unbaked balls in a freezer bag or container) to bake on demand. When ready to bake, just add an extra 5 minutes to cook time. Do not thaw first.