Monday, November 21, 2011

Pao De Queijo ( Gluten Free Cheese Rolls )

 There are a few different ways to make Pao de Queijo and I prefer this one as long as you are not trying to make the dough ahead of time and freeze it. It is still possible with this recipe if you used powdered milk instead of liquid but it gets a little tricky. Anyways, we love this at our house and I know you will too .  This recipe was taken straight from Our Best Bites. Enjoys!
    It’s been tormenting my soul for the past 10 years as I’ve tried recipe after recipe trying to duplicate the taste and texture I love.  You can buy pre-packaged mixes, but they’re not quite the same as homemade.  The problem is that there are several different methods to making these little balls of heaven.  A lot of them involve lots of hard to find ingredients, and methods like heating a mixture on the stove, kneading a big messy dough, etc.  When I was in Brazil, I learned how to make the most quick and easy version- an ultra fast liquid batter that you just poured into a muffin tin.  It’s been driving me crazy that I couldn’t find my recipe or one that was like it.  And then a few weeks ago something magical happened.  My husband walked in after organizing some junk in the garage and asked me if I wanted a little pink notebook.  I knew immediately what it was. It was bursting with little scraps of papers.  Scraps of papers with recipe notes on them.  I heard the hallelujah chorus.  We ate Pao de Queijo about 25 minutes later.  And it was heavenly.
If you’ve never had this type of Brazilian cheese bread, it’s tricky to explain.  It’s actually not “bread” at all- at least not like we’re used to here in the US.  It’s almost more like the texture of a cream puff shell or popover, but with more substance on the inside. The outside is slightly crisp and browned and the inside is airy and chewy.  If you’re not familiar with them at all then I want you to be fully informed so you don’t expect an actual yeast bread “roll”.  If you do, then you’ll probably think these are super weird and gooey.  They’re served at popular Brazilian restaurants, but honestly, while I adore those restaurants, I’ve yet to have a really good Pao de Queijo at any of them.  So trust me when I tell you that if you like those (or any of the pre-packaged mixes), you will probably love these homemade ones.  And if you know anyone who has ties to Brazil like I do, you are sure to melt their heart with these.  Once you see how quick and easy they are you’ll be making them all the time!
The best part is that I have 99% of the ingredients in my house pretty much at all times.
The only semi-strange ingredient in there is Tapioca Flour, and it’s actually easier to find than you might think.  It’s a really smooth, soft flour that feels much like cornstarch.  It’s made from the ground roots of the cassava plant and it’s gluten free for those of you that care about that :)
A lot of normal grocery stores carry a good selection of Bobs Red Mill products which is the brand I use.  Here in Idaho I can always find them at Fred Meyer, near the health food/specialty foods isle.  You can also find tapioca flour at Asian markets as it’s used in a lot of Asian cooking, and also at health food stores and places like Whole Foods where you can find a good selection of wheat flour alternatives.  Definitely check the gluten free isle of well stocked store.  If you live in an area with WINCO grocery stores, people are telling me you can find it in the bulk section (how did not know this??  Thank you readers!) You can’t substitute any other type of flour- the tapioca flour is key, so when you find a good place to buy it, stock up!
Okay, ready for easy?  You can prep these in about 60 seconds.  Seriously.  Put everything but the cheese in the blender and blend until smooth.
Then add in your cheese and pulse the blender one or two times.  I like to break it up a bit and mix it in, but not pulverize it. And you can be creative here.  I like a mixture of Parmesan and sharp cheddar.  It’s important to use cheese that has a stronger flavor because it’s really  the only flavor you’re putting in there and if it’s too mild I’ve found the rolls turn out pretty bland.   But play around with it and find your perfect mix.  You can also add more or less cheese, it’s pretty flexible.
Now just take your blender and pour the batter into little mini-muffin tins.  It’s a very thin batter so pour slowly!
I like to sprinkle a little more parmesan on top.  Because I like to sprinkle a little parmesan on top of just about everything.  I inherited that from my father, who puts parmesan on just about everything he makes. A little sprinkle of kosher salt is also yummy.
Recently I was browsing food blogs and was excited to see a nearly identical recipe on Bewitching Kitchen.  She mentioned putting rosemary in there, which at first I thought sounded a little strange.  Not because I don’t think it would taste good, but because I’d never had pao de queijo with any type of herb before.  I tried it just for kicks and man was it good!  You can either sprinkle a little dried or fresh rosemary on top, or blend it right in the batter.  Loved that addition.
Then you pop these babies in a hot oven and watch them do their magic.  They puff up into perfectly little bubbly golden balls of cheesy goodness.  How’s that for a descriptive sentence?
You want to cook them just until they’re set on top and barely golden.  If you over cook them, the tops actually look pretty similar, but you can tell by the bottoms.  Case in point:
And don’t worry if the tops fall in, that happens sometimes- they still taste the same!
Eating Pao De Queijo warm is a definite must.   I’ll just say that right now.  As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, bust one open and eat it.
They’ll be a little crispy on the outside and soft, airy, and tender on the inside.  Almost a little chewy.  Some of them are even kind of hollow.  This version is definitely less dense than the kneaded dough variety.
I dare you to just eat one.  This recipe is a little dangerous.


  1. Could I use Olive oil... or would that just mess it all up.. Or just vegetable oil? I have a grudge against canola oil for some reason.

  2. You can use olive oil. It won't be quite as light and airy but none the less it will still be delicious!