Pão de queijo (cheese buns) 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 balloon made of molten cheese when warm. It is a popular snack and breakfast food in Bolivia, Brazil (specially in the state of Minas Gerais), Paraguay and northern Argentina. In countries where the snack is popular, it is inexpensive and often sold from streetside stands by vendors carrying a heat-preserving container. One can knead pão de queijo in a mixer with a hook attachment or do it manually by hand. Once the mixture reaches a doughy consistency, it’s vital to roll it into a ball and either bake immediately or freeze it for later use. If left to rest, the dough will virtually liquify.
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water
4 ounces (1/2 cup) milk
2 ounces (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 ounces (2 cups) tapioca starch
2-3 ounces finely grated cheese (parmesan is common Mexican Cotija is best)
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Combine the liquids and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, put the tapioca starch in a medium bowl. In another bowl grate the cheese and whisk it together with the eggs.
When the milk mixture is boiling, pour it over the starch and beat it vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a gelatinous paste. Let it cool completely. When cool, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the cheese/egg mixture (you can do this by hand, but the mixer is easier and more thorough) and beat on medium-high for about 90 seconds until the mixture is uniform and fluffy.
Spoon roughly 2-tablespoon-sized quantities onto a sheet pan and bake 30-40 minutes until golden. Eat warm.