These buns actually have a lot in common with the pâte à choux used to make cream puffs and gougères. Both are made by bringing liquid to a boil, stirring in the flour until it becomes a paste, and then working in a few eggs for richness and leavening. Where the French pastries tend to have a crisp outer shell and a fairly hollow interior, pão de queijo are quite soft and have an airy, delicate crumb.
Pão de queijo are also traditionally made with cassava flour (also called manioc flour or tapioca starch), which is incredibly starchy. This flour gives the buns a distinctive texture and (we think) a slight sour flavor.
In Brazil and other Portuguese-influenced countries, pão de queijo are often eaten for breakfast or as a snack. We're happy to have them pretty much any time of the day!
Here are a few pão de queijo recipes from around the web:
Do you have any tips for making pão de queijo at home?