Please stop staring at these Baked Bollitos de Yuca (Cassava and Cheese Balls) for a second and let’s talk about something.
Developing and writing recipes may look easy at first glance–something I also believed before I started writing this blog– but the reality is that if you want to do it right, it’s a long, sweaty, arduous trek up Frustration Mountain. This one started with a simple question: Can I bake bollitos de yuca, instead of frying them? The answer was “Not with this recipe, but I’ll try to come up with one that you can bake”.
Me and my big mouth!
As you can probably imagine, it isn’t just a matter of popping them in the oven; it’s nowhere near as easy. Different combinations of ingredients work for different cooking methods, but I had to start somewhere, so I did. The result: Completely the opposite of the golden ball of goodness frying would give you. They were dry, tasteless and pale. Just as I expected.
Also they exploded. So add flat to all that.
Back to the drawing board… I tested two more versions, the second ones did not explode, but were every bit as dry as the first. The third batch –I think I nearly bought all the yuca at the supermarket– was juicier, more golden, but still pretty bland.
Here, my friends is where the smart people — or possibly the little-motivated– should call it quits. I’m probably not one of those types – I’ll leave to you to decide which.
There are two products that my kitchen never lacks, and even though I’m getting paid to write this post it’s still one hundred percent true: Arla cheese and butter. You see, my husband is Danish, and Arla is probably the best-selling dairy brand in Denmark (it’s a Scandinavian conglomerate). Danes take incredible pride in their dairy products, it’s a serious matter for them. So we always have their products at home. We are never out of butter, or cheese–my drug of choice.
So in the words of my dear husband: “If everything fails, add more butter!”
I clearly married him for his smarts, because it did work.
Sure, it isn’t exactly the fat-free concoction my readers expected, but sorry, it just doesn’t work otherwise. The good news is that if you, like me, hate frying, these are for you. It’s also much less work in the end.
I used Arla Dofino Gouda for these balls. Yuca has a very mild taste, so you want a cheese with a bit of punch to balance things out.
Follow Happy Havarti Holidays on Pinterest to get fantastic ideas and recipes. To get you in the mood for cooking, Arla is offering our readers a $1.00 off coupon. Please click HERE to get your coupon! Arla has also sponsored a giveawawy for our readers. Contest ended December 16, 2014. You can see details and winner here.
- 2 lb [0.9 kg] of yuca (cassava)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons of garlic powder (optional)
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (canola or corn) to cover your hands
- 1/4 lb [0.22 kg] (about 1 cup) of diced Arla Dofino Gouda Cheese
Peel the yuca and cut into 1 1/2" [3.8 cm]-thick pieces
Place in a deep pot, pour in 2 qt [2 lt] of water, add the salt and boil over medium heat until it is very tender (10-15 mins).
Remove the yuca from the water, remove the central nerve (careful not to burn your fingers) and mash until there are no lumps. Mix in egg yolk, butter, parsley and garlic powder.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature, it should be firmer then.
Cover your hands with oil to prevent the yuca mixture from sticking to them. Place 1.5 teaspoon of the mixture on the palm of your hand and flatten.
Put a cheese cube in the center and wrap the yuca mash around it making sure the cheese is not poking through the yuca. Freeze for an hour.
Heat oven to the maximum temperature it can reach, if your oven has a broiler function, it's better to use that.
Place the balls on a mini-muffin tray, or mini paper cups (see notes).
Bake the balls until they turn a light golden color.
Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
Some of the balls will inevitably leak cheese, they stand a much better chance if baked in a mini-muffin mold, or mini-paper cups. Most will come out OK if you make sure that the cheese is completely surrounded with yuca.