Ever wonder how those crunchy snacks are made? Strange ingredients, strange techniques? Well, kind of. A recipe for crunchy cheese puffs dropped into my inbox one morning by way of a food blog, The Splendid Table. There was a beautiful photo of what appeared to be Cheetos. Of course they couldn't call it that. The folks at Frito-Lay wouldn't be too pleased. It was a recipe from a book called Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk, by Lara Ferroni. I just had to try it. As you can see, mine didn't turn out quite as true to the cat I was trying to copy, but I also had to mix up the recipe. Because...that's just the way I am. But alas....I did create a tasty and somewhat addictive snack. It has a crunchy exterior and a bit of a chew in the center. The groundwork is laid. So many possibilities to alter the flavors with different cheeses and herbs and spices.
Step 1: Ingredients
The ingredient list is short, but the technique is somewhat long. This a quite a project, for not a lot of snacking. I felt a tad like a mad scientist. But...just had to do it. I've had this recipe tucked in my back pocket for several months.
1/2 cup tapioca starch (Bob's Red Mill)
2 tablespoons fine corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ounce hard cheese, finely grated (Parmesan)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup water
2 cups peanut oil
salt, to taste
pinch chipotle chili powder
finely grated Parmesan for garnish