After Pesach, the first thing my kids wanted to eat was pizza. After that, they demanded my cinnamon buns from The Kosher Baker. Looking back, I realized that I could have satisfied their cravings with dessert pizza, an idea brought to me last summer by my teen cooking students.
For the last five summers, I have trekked up to Camp Ramah New England, my childrens’ sleep-a-way camp in Massachusetts and taught a cooking and baking program to teens. It is basically an introduction to Jewish and American cooking and baking with a heavy dose of classic French desserts. Last year, I arrived at camp a few weeks after I taped Food Network’s Sweet Genius competition show. With that amazing experince still fresh in my mind, I created Pizza Wars. I wanted to be the judge this time. I also think I wanted the campers to experience my thrill at having to be creative when you are up against the clock. I was curious to see what they would do.
I broke the 14 campers into groups, told them they had to make two different pizzas and requested a list of ingredients they needed. I have tried to make the program more nutritious over the years and we used a homemade whole wheat dough for the pizzas. I never suggested sweet pizzas, yet three out of the four groups came up with that on their own. One group quickly learned what happens to whipped cream and ice cream when added to a pizza right out of the oven. Another group went crazy with chocolate, bananas and sprinkles – basically a banana split pizza. My favorite was the one with chocolate baked on top of the dough after which the kids added chocolate mint candies and fresh strawberries immeditely after the baked dough came out of the oven. The combination of hot and cold, mint, strawberries and chocolate was quite sophisticated.
The winners made a s’mores pizza. They first kneaded powdered sugar into their dough to sweeten it, rolled it out, topped it with chocolate and then added crushed graham crackers and marshmallows on top. The S’mores Pizza recipe below was imspired by our Top Pizza. I cannot wait to see what the campers invent next summer.
Below are my favorites, but you can make whatever you like. You might even try your own “Pizza Wars” the next time you host a birthday party. Let me know what you come up with by sending me a comment below.
Makes four or five 7-8-inch pizzas, depending on thickness
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages dry yeast (1/2 ounce total)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teapsoon for oiling bowl
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine ½ cup warm water, yeast, sugar in a measuring cup and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes. Pour mixture into a medium bowl. Without rinsing, measure into the measuring cup another ½ cup water and add the the bowl. Add the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, oil, and salt. You can start mixing with a wooden spoon, but your hands will work best. After the ingredients are combined, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about two minutes. The dough can be a little sticky. Place the remaining teasoon oil into the bowl, rub around the bowl and then around the dough and place the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic and let rise for one hour.
Preheat oven to 450°F. When the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured surface, divide it into four or five and shape into balls. Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Get your topping ready. Roll out the dough to whatever thickness you like, from thin to thick and place on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. I roll it out between ¼ and ½-inch thick. Use lighter-colored cookie sheets. I start baking the pizzas on the bottom of the oven or the lowest rack, and once the bottom has turned golden, I move the pan to a higher rack. The pizzas bake between 10 and 15 minutes, so you need to watch them carefully and check when are done, the crust has puffed and the bottom is golden.
Add one of the toppings below, or use your imagination to create your own. You can add nuts and dried fruit before baking, crushed cookies or candies after baking. You can dust with powdered sugar if you like.
2 tablespoons parve margarine or butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into ¼-inch slices
confectioner’s sugar for dusting, optional
Place the margarine into a skillet over medium heat and melt. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and apples, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, or until the apples are fork tender. Set aside. Place on top of the rolled dough, leaving a 3/4 – one inch border. Bake on the bottom rack for 5 minutes and then move to a higher rack for another 5-10 minutes, or until the crust has puffed and colored and the bottom is golden.
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons parve margarine or butter
Mix the cinnamon and sugar. Melt one tablespoon of mnargarine or butter. Brush the top of the dough. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of the cinnamon sugar to cover the dough, to taste. Cut the remaining margarine or butter and dot the top of the cinnamon-coated dough. Bake on the bottom rack for 5 minutes and then move to the middle rack and bake until the pizza has puffed and the bottom is golden. Remove from oven and slice into one-inch strips.
1 Graham cracker, crushed into small crumbs
3/4- 1 cup chocolate chips
7 large marshmallows
Place the chips on top of the dough and press in gently. Sprinkle about one tablespoon of crumbs on top, or more to taste. Bake on the bottom rack for 6-8 minutes, or until chips are mostly melted. Remove from heat and place marshmallows on top, leaving about an inch between each one (they expand). Bake another 5 – 8 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly toasted. Watch them carefully or they will get enormous and be too chewy to eat.
Chocolate Candy and Fruit
3/4 cup chocolate chips
sliced strawberries or bananas
Chocolate candies or crushed cookies
Place the chips on top of the dough and press in gently. Bake on the bottom rack for 5-6 minutes, or until the bottom is browned. And then move to the middle rack until the dough is puffed and the bottom is golden, another 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven and add chopped candies or cookies, sliced fruit, sprinkles, or whatever you like.