One of my first introductions to Brazilian food was pão de queijo. The initial bite and subsequent transcendence was akin to the medley of sounds and colors that Remy in Ratatouille experiences when taking bites from a bit of cheese and a strawberry. Suffice to say, my mind was blown.
Pão de queijo is delightfully crisp on the outside, yet tender in the center. The cheese that's added becomes one with the dough and lends itself to a pillowy texture. You'd be hard pressed to find a better combo than bread and cheese.
Pimento cheese, traditionally served with crackers, is another way I get my cheesy carb fix. Vividly orange and tangy, this spread is a staple in the South. You can find it at birthday parties, baby showers, funerals and everything in between.
When I did my Mardi Gras series on Instagram last week, I decided to end with an ode to two places that do carnival season big: Brazil and Louisiana. Gold (the last color of the Mardi Gras trifecta) and its symbolism for power is best encapsulated through the blend of the two cultures. What better way than through food? I decided to marry pimento cheese and pão de queijo. Tangy, cheesy, salty and all the best of both worlds.
I've been recipe testing this for a week and now I'm finally ready to share!
Pimento Pão de Queijo
¾ c. buttermilk
¼ c. vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 ¼ c. tapioca flour (see notes)
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. extra sharp cheddar, freshly grated
½ c. low-moisture mozzarella, freshly grated
¼ c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
¼ c. drained and diced pimentos
Sour tapioca flour works best for this recipe. You can find it online or at Asian markets. If you're unable to locate sour tapioca flour/starch, look for sweet tapioca flour/starch. It's often located in the baking section at grocery stores. Do not use cassava flour; it contains more root than tapioca starch. Cassava flour will make the dough dry and crumbly.
While you can purchase pre-grated cheese, the end result tastes better when you shred the cheese yourself. Most pre-grated cheese is tossed with anti-caking agents that make it harder for the cheese to melt.
Most jars of pimento come diced but I like to give the peppers an extra nice chop before adding into the dough.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: Approx. 30 pieces of bread
Special Equipment: Small saucepan, medium heat-proof bowl, cooking spoon or silicone spatula, and medium (#40) cookie scoop.
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Pour buttermilk, vegetable oil, and salt into a saucepan, bringing to a boil over medium-high heat.
In a medium bowl, combine tapioca flour with garlic and onion powder.
When the liquid mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and immediately stir into tapioca flour mix until smooth. The dough will be chunky and look like cottage cheese, so don't be alarmed. Set aside to rest for about 10 minutes or until lukewarm to touch.
Once cool, stir the cheese and eggs into the tapioca mixture until well combined. Lastly, add the diced pimento peppers.
Using a spoon or cookie scoop, drop rounded ping pong-sized balls of the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake in preheated oven until the tops are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve fresh from the oven and enjoy!