When we were in Chicago in January for a friend’s wedding, we ate a little placed called Cassava that specialized these cheesy, chewy little breads. We ate there twice in one weekend because when you’re a gluten-free person in a new place, a restaurant you can eat at is always your new best friend.
Pão de queijo are a traditional Brazilian cheese bread made with tapioca starch, so most iterations of them are naturally gluten-free. They’re sort of a blank slate in terms of adding your own flavors, so they’re very adaptable. I stirred in some diced uncured petite ham from Vermont Smoke & Cure that they sent me to play around with. I really love these little hams because as one half of a couple who is very conscientious about the meat we eat, it’s so nice to have an option that is a) uncured and certified humane and b) a very manageable size.
Most recipes I encountered for these called for a stand mixer and I’m still a stand mixer-less food blogger. So, I used my hands, which made this way more fun and–because you need to work the dough for a while–good stress relief too. Judging by how delicious the final product was, it didn’t suffer from the lack of a stand mixer. I find that these are really best the day they’re made, so this doesn’t make a huge batch. However, you could easily double it for a cocktails & snacks situation or a spring-y brunch.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup tapioca starch
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 2/3 cup finely diced cooked ham
- black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Bring the 1/3 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan.
- As soon as it boils, remove from the heat and combine with tapioca starch and oil in a medium bowl.
- Stir together with a spatula and as soon as it’s no longer too hot to touch, begin working the dough with your hands. Smush it through your fingers and pull and stretch it. Do this for about 6 minutes, until the dough is glossy and pliable. (If it seems like there is extra oil at this point, that’s ok. It will easily incorporate once you add the egg.)
- Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Add the beaten egg and incorporate it into the dough. It’s a sticky job, but I did this with my hands and it worked just fine. Indeed, this is where a stand mixer would come in handy. The resulting dough will have a slightly uneven texture. That’s normal!
- Fold in the grated parmesan, ham, and a few generous turns of grated black pepper.
- Using a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, scoop the batter on to the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops begin to turn golden brown.
- Let cool slightly and enjoy.
Disclosure: I received products from Vermont Smoke & Cure free of charge for editorial consideration.