I am always looking for new recipes from different cuisines and I happened to stumble upon this one from one of my capoeira friends. This recipe originates from Brazil and translates to Cheese bread. They are made as little balls and eaten as snacks. Before I even had the recipe I was determined to make them for all my friends in my class, but when I did a bit of research I discovered to my delight that they did not use flour, but rather tapioca starch which is gluten free. KA CHING! additionally they only had milk and parmesan, so it was easy to substitute rice milk into the mixture to make them also lactose free (as parmesan and other very matured cheeses do not have any lactose) I have hit the jackpot!!!
So I went out and bought the tapioca starch, which is easy enough to find from any Chinese grocery store. NOTE: do not bother going into a supermarket like Coles as they will probably charge you $6 a packet as it is in the heath food aisle, but if you go to the Chinese store, they will be max $2 a packet as it is something they use in a lot of cooking.
My first attempt was a DISASTER. It was based on choux pastry where you heat the milk, oil and water in a pan then add the flour and other ingredients. I think without proper full cream cow milk and butter, my substitutions hindered the stressfulness of that method. They were startchy, chewy and transparent in the centre. The outsides were beautifully cooked and tasted delicious so I actually got a spoon and pulled all the insides out and ate a plate of crusts. You could call it finding the best of any situation, yes, but to me I still needed to make it better, properly. I knew it was not a hard snack to make, but I just needed a new better recipe.
I then found a blog, Kitchen Corners, from a Brazilian girl who rather than heating the liquid first, just blitzed everything together in a blender. It seemed very very liquidy at first and I was skeptical about its stressfulness again. Thoughts ran through my mind of “will this even cook”.
BUT I reminded myself to be patient, something I am terrible at, have faith in the recipe and let the wonders of the oven take over. Instantly these liquid pots had puffed into magnificent balls of goodness. SUCCESS!
Hot out of the oven I eagerly ripped one apart, not caring if I was going to burn my fingers, I wanted to see if the inside was as good as the outside. YUP, the inside was soft and fluffy, just like a good freshly made bread. I knew I would be indulging on them all afternoon as I have not had a slice of bread for about 7 weeks now since I found out I am gluten intolerant and am missing it terribly. They were soooo good that I ate at least 10 over the next four hours. I could not help myself, they just tasted so good and I knew I could enjoy their flavour and texture, but the best thing to indulge in is the thought that they will not make me sick, have stabbing stomach aches and not be able to sleep, so devoured I did.
The true test will be my Master and his daughters who know all about the real thing and I must admit will be harsh critics, but I am sure they will approve. I am completely confident and am so happy to have stumbled upon Pão de queijo.
Pao de Queijo
500g tapioca starch
1 cup milk
3/4 cup rice bran oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1. Put everything bar the parmesan in the blender until well combined then add the parmesan.
2. Spoon into mini muffin tins only 3/4 full otherwise they will overflow.
3. Bake for 15 mins or until well browned.