In my younger years, I had the good fortune to travel the world and live abroad in various fun places for work. At the time, I was vegetarian, but not vegan. This means that I still have the taste of various cheese-and-egg-based foreign specialties in my mind and can work to recreate them, veganized, for all of us to share.
One of those local specialities is Brazilian pão de queijo, or quite literally, bread of cheese. The small, spherical puffs are a traditional street food that you can buy as a snack on your way home from work or a night of partying. They are made with cassava (aka tapioca) flour for a delicious gluten-free treat. The original cheese flavor is very easily replicated here with the use of Daiya cheddar shreds, margarine, and nutritional yeast.
The best thing about pão de queijo (aside from the glorious memories of carnaval that it stirs up in me…) is the texture. They are obey, gooey, sticky, and totally unique. This recipe precisely replicates the original texture, so please enjoy and leave your thoughts in the comments.
Prep time: 25 minutes ~ Cook time: 23 minutes ~ Makes: 30 puffs
1) In a small dish, combine:
-2 T ground flax seed
-3 T warm water
Mix thoroughly and set aside.
2) In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients:
-2 c tapioca flour
-1.5 c vegan cheddar shreds (I use Daiya brand)
-3 T nutritional yeast
-1 t baking powder
-1 t salt (this will make for very salty and delicious pão de queijo…but if you are watching your salt intake or just prefer less salt, I suggest using half this amount)
3) In a small pot, combine:
-3/4 c unsweetened soy/nut milk
-1/2 c margarine (I use Earth Balance baking sticks)
Heat, covered, over low until margarine has completely liquified. Then bring to a boil, whisking to keep even. Remove immediately from the heat and pour into large bowl of dry ingredients. Stir immediately with a fork until evenly mixed and flour has disappeared.
4) Preheat oven to 350.
5) Add the flax “eggs” and mix.
6) If dough is too sticky to handle, place in freezer for 10 minutes until the dough is less sticky.
7) Spray cookie sheet lightly with spray oil. Use wet hands to roll approximately 30 small balls (1 tablespoon each.) Keep a shallow dish of water nearby to re-wet your hands as needed. Arrange on a cookie sheet. Cook at 350 for 23 minutes.
-Make sure your tapioca flour is fresh. If it’s old, it will have a strange metallic-like smell, particularly when mixed with liquid.
-Original, Brazilian-made, pão de queijo are formed into neat little balls. This dough is a bit stickier, making it harder to handle, and making the balls less perfect looking. However, even if you don’t roll them into spheres (as in my pictures!) the taste and amazing gooey texture is exactly the same, so enjoy!