Pão de queijo (pãos de queijo?) are a lot like gougères, but with a little less fat and zero gluten. Why’s that? Because they’re made from tapioca starch, a derivative of the cassava root, not wheat flour. This gives them a somewhat different texture, like a soft wheat bun when cool, like a hot air ballon made of molten cheese when warm. They’re really quite a delicious experience either way, no wonder they’re one of the national foods of Brazil.
One of the more interesting quirks of the human brain (or at least MY human brain) is that once it starts down a path with the wrong set of assumptions it doesn’t return easily to the right track, even if that track is relatively easy to get onto. So it was with me and pão de queijo. Squaring the right technique (since there are at least three possibles) with the right cassava product (since there are at least three of those as well) took me the better part of a week. Thankfully with a little help from some of my readers, I finally arrived at the right recipe, cassava flour and technique. Whew! You’ll need: