My grandfather was from Minas Gerais (the land of the pão de queijo) and I don’t deny my roots. Cheese bread is a serious subject. And it’s a basic need in one’s life. I don’t even want to talk about how miserable I am to be living in a land where you don’t find pão de queijo in every corner. But let’s not think about that and get back to what’s really important: pão de queijo is serious business.
Actually, one of the things dieting taught me is that food, in general, is serious business. We must be honest to our hunger and to our wishes. We don’t just eat to stay alive. We eat because it’s good. And because it’s tasty. And, let’s face it, eating something that’s been sitting on a bakery window for the entire day is not really going to make you happy.
However… the gourmet versions of pão de queijo are quite expensive and, if you’re like me and live in a country that don’t have pão de queijo you either have to pay a small fortune for them on Brazilian restaurants or you risk to have a weird generic version of it. Well, cassava flour is gluten free and it’s very popular nowadays. Why don’t you just buy some and make your own homemade pão de queijo? I tell you why. Because it’s darn hard! – Actually I have an awesome blender version (like so many others) of it that my great aunt used to make and I’ll share it here some day but, met me say that nothing can be easier that this 3 ingredients recipe (tapioca + cheeses).
I did came across a few recipes like this one online (and even saw one on a very popular morning Brazilian TV show), but I got even more curious when a friend posted her version of it on her Instagram account (with tapioca starch). Some would use eggs, others milk and even some traditional cassava flour (that we call polvilho). I’m picky and, for my taste, I always thought that those breads looked a bit withered. I dig a crock crock so bad. I like my pão de queijo with a hard crust. I love crust. I always want to have the crust of the bread and I love cake corners. If you know me, you know I’m a crust chick.
I kept looking and searching. And let’s not forget that I live in France and even if it’s very trendy to have gluten free flours, manioc derivates are not jumping from the supermarket shelves. All the same, whenever I go to the Chinese market (almost every week) I see this “tapioca pearls”. And they’re not very expensive. The problem is that the ‘very few) recipes I saw using tapioca pearls were quite complicated for you have to hydrate the pearls and do this and do that. Not my cup of tea.
But then you just don’t give up and keep looking until the day you just decide to try it out. We must take chances in life, right? With that said, I only have one thing to ask you: go buy tapioca pearls because you’re about to get addicted to the most crunchy and simple pão de queijo.
Oh! And I don’t have a problem calling it pão de queijo (cheese bread) for that’s exactly what it is. A small bread made from cheese. Not to mention that the original version of it uses cassava flour (the polvilho I told you about) that comes from the manioc. Tapioca comes from the manioc. We’re good! The only thing is that I had to replace the “original” cheese with parmesan, but it works just fine. More than fine, I must say.
Brazilian cheese bread made from tapioca pearls
140g tapioca pearl
150g cream cheese
50g parmesan (the original pão de queijo is made from a cheese called “meia cura”, if you’re ever lucky enough to bump into one, GO FOR IT!)
If I hadn’t made such a cute video of my little mess the right thing to say would be: mix it all together and put it in the oven. However, as I always say, for the sake of this blog (and my so recent blogger career), let’s make a sweet step by step.
- The mix it all together is true, though. I started adding the parmesan to the tapioca pearls for they are the “dry” ingredients. Then I added the cream cheese. All at once.
- Now it’s time to get your hands dirty. Unlike the tapioca flour version, this dough is less sticky but as the cream cheese is, as it says on the name, creamy, it will get a bit messy. Nonetheless, once everything is well blended you’ll see that the dough is almost not sticky at all.
- I put the dough on the fridge for about 15 minutes just to make it even more firm and easier to work with.
- I say work with because that’s what we’re going to do. As we’re using the pearls, the dough is quite dense and we won’t get to roll them into balls like we do with the traditional cheese bread. You can make small balls, triangles, squares, little hearts… Whatever you want.
- Spread the “balls” into a baking tray greased with olive oil and put it to bake in pre heated oven (200°C or 400°F) for about 30 minutes. That time will vary from one oven to another and also depending on the size of your breads. Just stay vigilant and let them bake until they’re golden brown.
This recipe makes 12 breads of 25g each.
I strongly recommend you eat it straight out from the oven, with a nice warm cinnamon coffee.
Next time I’ll make a double batch to freeze some and see how they react. But I must say that this recipe is so simple that I don’t even think we need to freeze the dough, right?