Pan de Queso is one of my favorite little breads ever. I first tried them in a Brazilian restaurant in NYC and got hooked on then. I often go to $40+ a head Brazilian BBQ places just so I can have these wonderful balls of gooey chewy cheese and tapioca bread, some chimichurri sauce and a nice steak. It has never occurred to me to make them as I thought it was going to be difficult.
I went to one of such Brazilian restaurants with my girlfriends last weekend and ate so many of these breads they were laughing at me - I was truly hugging the bread basket not allowing the waiter to remove it. Even as we were exiting the restaurant, I did ask the manager if he could please give me some breads to take home (which he did) - I mean it I do love the little balls of magic!
So when I was wondering through the isles of a Latin supermarket in Miami yesterday, a thought came to my mind and I quickly ran to the flour isle and started to read every single bag. And there it was, the yuca (tapioca) flour, the wonderful main ingredient of the pan de queso! not only that, the bag had a recipe on the back. I also noticed in such bag, that this flour is so low in carbs that it can hardly be called flour. I was sold! I got 3 bags and headed to my hotel. I dreamt of fluffy crunchy cheese balls all night long.
Today the experiment began - I set up to make the balls, thinking it was difficult and gratefully realizing that they are so easy to make that I now regret the hundreds of dollars I have spent throughout the years going to Brazilian restaurants to eat them. Here is my take on the recipe from the bag (yes I know I had to change it):
Ingredients (makes 16 pan de queso balls):
- 1 cup of yuca flour (Tapioca flour)
- 1 cup of grated Swiss cheese (you can also use white cheese)
- 1 egg - beaten
- 1 tsp corn starch or baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 2 to 3 tbsp milk
Pre heat the oven at 375F and put a pizza stone in it (optional - you can do this on a greased baking tray). Mix the flour and the grated cheese in a bowl, add the corn starch, the beaten egg and a pinch of salt (if you are using a salty cheese do not use salt) - mix again. Add 1 tbsp of milk at a time and knead the mixture until it forms a dough. Make small little balls of dough.
Remove the pizza stone from oven, spray it with PAM (cooking oil spray) and quickly place the balls on the stone. Put the stone in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until golden. Your house will take the aroma of freshly baked bread. When done, take the balls out of the stone and into a rack. Eat them right away.
They will be nice and crispy on the outside and chewy and gooey on the inside! ohh so good.
While I was waiting for the balls to bake I made a nice broccoli cream of soup. The perfect combination!