Pao de Quiejo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)
Pao de Quiejo are gougere-like little buns, ubiquitous in Brazil, where they’re sold as snacks. Crisp and light on the outside and cheesy and chewy on the inside, they can be found in a variety of addictive flavors. Ours are studded with minced salame, parsley and Parmigiano cheese. Made with sour manioc starch and tapioca flour, which give them their characteristic chew, they’re ideal for those who are gluten-intolerant. Even better: they’re easy. Which is good, because you’re not going to stop eating them.
The sour manioc starch is fermented and makes a big difference in the success of this dish. It can be found in a Brazilian grocery or online. For more information on these flours, see our Cook’s Note below.
Put both starches and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed until combined.
Combine the milk, water, butter and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil (about 5 minutes), giving it a stir to make sure butter is melted.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix the eggs and cheese with a fork and set aside.
When the milk mixture boils, pour it over the flour mixture and mix on lowest speed for 2 minutes. The mixture should gather into a ball and be smooth and sticky. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, then add the egg mixture. Mix on lowest speed for 10 minutes. Stop the mixer a couple of times to scrape the sides of the bowl and paddle. At this point, the dough will be very smooth, slick and sticky.
Scrape down the bowl and paddle and sprinkle the salame and parsley in. Mix on low speed just until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
Scrape down the bowl and paddle, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly coat your hands with oil and scoop out the dough, using a small cookie scoop (or 2 small spoons). It’s helpful to oil the scoop, too. Roll between your hands into balls about 1-inch to 1¼ -inch in diameter. Set the balls on the lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch in between them.
Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the cheese rolls are puffed and lightly browned, 22 to 25 minutes. Serve while still warm.
There is a lot of confusion with the labeling of manioc starch, manioc flour, tapioca starch and tapioca flour. All of these flours and starches come from the cassava plant, also known as manioc or yuca. For Pao de Queijo, we use both sour manioc starch called povilho azeda, which is fermented, and sweet manioc starch called povilho dolce. Sweet manioc starch is more commonly available as tapioca starch or tapioca flour and can be found in supermarkets and Asian markets. Sour manioc starch can be difficult to find unless you go to a Latin market or order online. Avoid using manioc flour, also labeled as farinha de mandioca, which is coarsely ground. To make things even more complicated, tapioca starches and flours can have different absorption levels, so depending on the brand, the batter may come out stiffer or looser.