Fun With Tapioca Flour (or, an excuse to make chocolate pudding and cheese puffs)

by Elissa

A while back I came across a couple of recipes that called for tapioca flour, so I decided to pick up a bag at the store.

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Of course, it took me close to a year to actually make the recipes I had bookmarked, but at least one of them was worth the wait. Tapioca flour is not too hard to track down these days (probably because gluten-free diets are so much more common). It has the consistency of cornstarch and can act as a thickener or a flour.

First up, this recipe for chocolate pudding from Food 52. I never need much persuading to make chocolate pudding, and this recipe intrigued me because you don't actually cook the pudding. You heat the milk, cream and sugar together and pour the hot mixture into a food processor (or blender) running with a couple of egg yolks and some tapioca flour. I was skeptical that the residual heat from the milk mixture would be enough to melt the chocolate, but it worked out just fine and I ended up with a perfectly smooth chocolate pudding.

Do you know how hard it is to take a good picture of chocolate pudding?

Do you know how hard it is to take a good picture of chocolate pudding?

This was definitely on the decadent end of the pudding spectrum--more like a custard than a classic pudding. But it was thoroughly delicious and I'll be making it again.

Next I decided to try my hand at pao de queijo, also known as Brazilian cheese bread. A friend from Brazil introduced me to these a few years ago--they are basically like chewy cheese puffs. This recipe called for tapioca flour and promised to be easy.

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These were indeed easy to make--just a matter of mixing the ingredients together in a blender--and hot out of the oven they were pretty tasty.  I used a fairly mild cheese blend, and I think that if I tried these again I'd experiment with a stronger cheese, like cheddar or parmesan. I think maybe I overfilled the muffin tins, as these puffs were a little on the heavy side. Anyways, they were a cinch to make and fun to eat, but they weren't quite up to my recollection of the real deal.

Bottom line: I'm glad to have some tapioca flour in my pantry!