I have to thank my fabulous neighbours for introducing me to these delicious cheesy poofs. These cheese balls are best when eaten a few minutes after they come out of the oven, however, my son still loves them a few hours later in his school lunch. The dough can be made in advance and frozen into balls ready to be baked from frozen when needed.
This was actually one of the first recipes I posted on the blog but I made it for grain-free pizza bases instead. These are the instructions for making them into little balls. We make them for breakfast and after school snacks or for a treat in the weekend. Be warned, however, as they are addictive! You can also halve the recipe if you choose. I usually make a full batch and freeze the extra small dough balls to have them easily on hand for baking in the morning.
Pão de Queijo - Brazilian Cheese Bread
500g (just over 4 cups) tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour or manioc starch)
1 cup whole milk or unsweetened almond milk
40g butter or coconut oil
1 tsp sea salt
250g firm cheese – grated (cheddar, parmesan, low-moisture mozzarella, tasty, edam or colby work well)
2-3 large free-range eggs – lightly beaten (start with 2 and add a third if it still needs more to form a workable dough)
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
- Place tapioca starch in a large mixing bowl and whisk it briefly to make sure there are no lumps.
- Place milk, butter and salt into a saucepan over a medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Watch it carefully as it tends to boil over suddenly.
- Once it has boiled, pour the milk mixture over the tapioca starch while stirring with fork. The mixture will be very lumpy and dry looking and this is totally normal. Continue to stir, breaking up the lumps with the fork until the mixture cools down to warm.
- Add the grated cheese to the tapioca mixture and use your hands to incorporate the cheese well.
- Add the eggs in, one at a time, and mix them in by gently kneading the dough in the bowl until it is soft, pliable dough that is smooth.
- Form the dough into small balls that are about 3-4cm in diameter and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (use tapioca-floured hands if the dough is quite sticky). Leave at least 4cm between each ball, as they will double in size once baked. If the dough is too sticky, which can happen with some batches of tapioca starch, use a spoon and scoop the dough into 3-4cm mounds on the lined baking tray.
- Bake in the centre rack of your oven for 20-25 minutes or until the flecks of cheese are just starting to go golden and the bottom is starting to brown (lift it up to have a look if you are unsure).