Today I made a sweet, cheese-less, dairy-free version of Pao de Queijo. I decided on calling them coconut puff biscuits!
They are airy, pillow-y, spongy, slightly chewy, and crisp, especially when eaten soon after being taken out of the oven. They sort of remind me of a cross between a macaron and a donut.
I used this recipe for Pao de Queijo and made a few changes with the ingredients for a sweet, not savory, coconut-enriched, cheese-less version. Pao de Queijo are gluten-free, and so are these!
Basically I used less salt, coconut milk instead of whole milk (to make them dairy free and also to increase the coconut flavor), and flaked coconut instead of the cheese, then added a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar to make it just slightly sweet.
Although I could not make them as puffy as the original recipe, they are still wonderfully airy. My theory on what makes them as puffy as in the link, where they are practically spherical, is having them exposed to the initial heat of 450 degrees F. I also think another crucial part to this recipe is getting the milk to be sufficiently hot. I made the mistake once of taking the milk off the heat when it was just scalding, and, as a result, the milk wasn’t hot enough for the tapioca flour. Something is activated in the tapioca flour when the milk is hot enough. The batter was very soupy, and I knew something was wrong. But in the end, they weren’t too bad. They were more like flat, chewy tapioca cookies.
My only regret is that I made these as bite sized morsels, which makes one want to
eat inhale ten of them at once! These can be stored for up to a week in an air-tight container, and re-crisp them briefly in a hot oven. Which makes them perfect for a do-ahead kind of treat. I’m making these ahead of time for a co-worker who is both gluten and dairy intolerant, whose birthday is coming up.
Coconut Puff Biscuits
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 and 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Sift tapioca flour and confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a small sauce pan, heat the milk, oil, and salt on medium heat, whisking occasionally. As soon as coconut milk mixture is bubbling, remove from heat and add all the tapioca mixture, and using a rubber spatula, stir until there is no dry tapioca flour left. At this point, the mixture should look and feel sort of like glue–sticky, and viscous.
Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and let it mix on medium speed for a few minutes, until the batter is cool enough to handle with your fingers for several seconds without feeling that your fingers are going to burn, but still warm.
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Add one egg at a time, and only add the next egg when the first egg is thoroughly combined and integrated into the batter.
Finally add the coconut flakes and mix for about a minute. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat, (or using a mini-muffin pan, which is what I did), use a tablespoon-sized ice cream scoop or similar utensil, spacing about 2 inches apart from each other.
As soon as you place it in the oven, turn heat down to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. They should be puffy and slightly browned on the sides. I made about 36 or 37 mini muffins. Enjoy!