There’s a Brazilian place next to campus that we grad students sometimes go to for happy hour and cheap margaritas and appetizers. One of the apps is magical, delicious, fluffy, chewy, cheesy, amazing pão de queijo, which are essentially tapioca and cheese rolls but they’re SO GOOD. The nth time she heard me waxing poetic about these cheese rolls, my officemate suggested I make them and then blog about them. So here we are!
Any recipe for pão de queijo calls for tapioca flour, but I made these fairly impulsively with stuff in my house, so I used mochi flour instead. This paragraph is me attempting to compare the two. Tapioca flour makes the middle of the rolls chewy and mildly rubbery, like the bubbles in Taiwanese bubble tea/boba. Versus the chewiness of mochi flour in these rolls has none of the pleasant rubberiness and more of a sticky bite, remarkably not too much like actual mochi but more like Dots, the candy. Tapioca flour gives you a satisfying snap after some chewy give when you bite one of the rolls, as if you were pulling salt water taffy and took a sharp bite out of it. While the mochi flour is all gummy give, like eating a Swedish Fish.
That’s all to say, this cheese bread I made is good, but it’s not exactly Pão de Queijo if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s the mochi-fied version of pão de queijo. And it’s super delicious, because butter, milk, eggs, and cheese together are so yummy.
I took a basic recipe and substituted Mochiko (the brand of sweet rice flour carried by an Asian supermarket near you!) for tapioca flour. They probably react a bit differently (I think the dough is supposed to be salt-water taffy like when the tapioca flour is beaten in, instead of slightly clumpy) but the technique worked.
Lots of recipes out there call for oil, but… butter. I don’t even need verbs for that sentence. Butter is its own justification. Butter. Melt the butter with milk and salt until it just gets to boiling. Then drop in your starchy flour of choice and stir stir stir until there aren’t any big dry clumps lying around.
Alternative that I did not do: put the flour in your stand mixer and pour the hot salty butter-milk over it and turn on the mixer. Because I at least ended up using the stand mixer anyway: not as necessary with mochi flour, definitely necessary with tapioca flour (that stuff is strong).
Upon first mixing, the dough looks like cottage cheese, all clumpy and mildly wet. Then you beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth, and then fold/beat in the cheese. Note that I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer instead of the hook or whisk- you don’t want to add a ton of air (so doing it by hand is great!)
If using tapioca flour, it’ll take a few minutes to get smooth. Mochi flour takes about one minute. Then stir in your cheese. I had a mix of shredded grana padano and shaved parmesan cheese and I just threw it all in, hoping the beater would take care of the shaved cheese. Also I threw in lots of cheese, which I recommend. Almost too much cheese, but of course there’s no such thing.
Then you just bake these in your preheated oven while playing Dominion (if you’re me), and take them out after 20 minutes, let them cool a minute, and serve. We actually ate almost all of them before I remembered to take a picture of the last two. See those big cheese moles all over the rolls? That’s because they’re so so cheesy. They might not be as pretty but they sure are good!
1 c milk
1/2 c butter (2 sticks)
1/2 tsp salt (I always use salted butter, increase this if you use unsalted butter)
2 c sweet rice flour (I use Mochiko)
1 1/2 c mixed shredded or grated cheeses: I did half parmesan, half grana padano
Preheat oven to 450 or some crazy high temperature (you won’t actually cook the bread at this temp; it’s just to blast it with heat and hopefully puff it up when it first pops in)
Melt the butter, milk, and salt together, heating and stirring just til it boils, then turn off heat.
Stir in the rice flour, stir stir stir, until not cottage-cheese-y looking anymore (smooth). Beat each egg separately, then stir in one at a time until smooth. Add in all the cheese and stir. This is like 10 solid minutes of stirring or using a stand mixer.
Drop tablespoons of dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and put into the oven. Turn heat down to 350, bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.