Sometimes you have to take your favorite thing to eat and bring it to the next level. And I’m talking the let’s put all the things we love into a cheesy gooey and delicious bun sort of level.
Let’s first talk about pão de queijo. I absolutely adore those golden brown cheesy and chewy bites. I was fortunate enough to live in Brazil for a few years as a kid and I would always spend my allowance money at the padaria and get myself a pão de queijo. I was always so happy to bite into that soft and gooey center! We all have our own wonderful childhood memories of gustatory bliss.
But really when I do think of my time in Brazil I always think of pão de queijo. I was definitely bummed out when I returned to Germany and I had no idea how to fulfill my pão de queijo fix. Whenever I went to a new city, I had to inspect the designated ‘Brazilian’ part of town and search for that unknown Brazilian baker who had pão de queijo on their menu.
It was tricky and it became so rare to eat them that they were a luxury to me. Until I finally grew up into the independent and responsible adult I am today and suddenly realized why suffer when I can just make them myself!
How is it that I adored these delightful cheesy bread buns for all these years without even having a clue how they are made and what they are made of? Oh, Linda.
It’s actually quite a simple recipe but requires a bit of manual work. When you have your basic tapioca mixture made, the dough is very elastic, thick and sticky and you still have to add in the eggs and cheese. If you have a stand mixer then you are in great luck and you can sit back while your mixer will jolt and shake and do all the hard work kneading the dough.
However if you do not have one, I suggest ditching the wooden spoon and using your hands. This is what I had to do numerous times before I took the plunge and bought a stand mixer. Your hands will get messy and the texture of dough will feel weird in between your fingers but I think that sort of hands on experience is the best and most fulfilling way to prepare your food!
Usually these cheesy buns are great as they are but I always wondered what would happen if you took the delicious flavor they have and add on ANOTHER delicious flavor. It had to be good. I didn’t want to add anything else to the dough because I feared that would compromise the bake. But what if I put something in between the dough? My vision seemed possible again and sliders came to mind.
You can really get creative and you are at liberty to add any of the favorite ingredients you like. This combo happens to be all the things I love and is exactly the flavor palate I am obsessed with. Crunch arugula with that sweet and salty combo (food equivalent to crack for humans) of the caramelized onions and honey mustard all pillowing a layer of smoky prosciutto. I just can’t say no!
Let me know what other fillings you would put in your pão de queijo sliders. If you haven’t made pão de queijo yet, I totally recommend taking the plunge and making them! You won’t regret it!
French Onion Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread) Sliders
makes about 15 sliders
For the pão de queijo
1 cup whole milk*
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups tapioca flour
1 to 1 ½ cups Parmesan Cheese
For the filling
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 sweet onions, thinly sliced
4 oz. prosciutto (8 slices)
3 cups arugula
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 ½ tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with the the oil. Cook the onions for 50 minutes to 1 hour until the onions are deeply browned. Turn down the heat if the onions scorch or stick to the pan; the browning doesn’t come through burning, but through slow, even caramelization.
Combine milk, oil and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat immediately when bubbles appear. Add all tapioca flour to the saucepan (gradually, you don’t want this to get messy) and mix together with a wooden spoon until combined (you don’t want to see anymore tapioca flour), about two minutes.
Transfer hot dough to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until dough has cooled and is smooth. If you can touch the dough without it being too hot then you can continue (you don’t want the dough to be too hot when adding the eggs). In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and add to dough in two additions. Mix in the cheese until fully incorporated.
Using an ice cream scoop that is wetted each time with water to prevent sticking, scoop balled portions onto the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes until puffed up and golden. Be sure not to overcook them as the dough gets very tough when left in the oven just a few minutes longer. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool for 5 minutes.
Mix the dijon mustard, honey, lemon juice and olive oil in a separate bowl. Slice each strip of prosciutto in half and fold it in fourths. Cut the pão de queijo buns in half and spread open. Pinching using all your fingers, grab some arugula and add it to the bottom bun and then place over the folded prosciutto. Top with about half a tablespoon of caramelized onions and drizzle two teaspoons of the honey mustard mixture on top. Finish by placing the top bun back on and insert a toothpick in the middle to hold it all together. Do this for all remaining pão de queijo buns.
These are best when served right away! If you’d like to reheat the buns heat in the microwave for about 1 minute. This will allow them to keep their moisture rather than heating them in the oven.
*You can us a dairy alternative. I haven’t attempted it yet but I’ve seen some other bakers use almond milk or soy milk as well as nutritional yeast or Daiya cheese to replace the Parmesan. Let me know if you have tried this before or if you plan on doing it! I’d love to know the results.