Day 4 – Countdown to Christmas 2014 Chocolate Caramel Pizza Puffs

Take a minute and just gawk, drool (don’t forget to wipe your chin) and say ‘Wow!’ out loud at this latest pizza puff recipe. I’ve been holding out on you guys with this recipe.  I mean first… it’s CHOCOLATE PIZZA DOUGH!  Wait, what?  No it’s not a chocolate cookie pizza, it’s actually pizza dough that has cocoa, chocolate and all kinds of awesome stuff!  We’ve all had dessert pizzas which is simple pizza dough, a sweet “sauce” and then fruit toppings. Those are really good and I love them but this one, this came out of a pure need and desire for pizza and chocolate.. together.

Now I’m all for mashing up recipes and seeing what new thing I can create but I didn’t want melted chocolate spread on regular dough. No I wanted the dough to be chocolately.  I’ve been working on this recipe for seriously years.  Either it was too chocoately (yes there such a thing) or it didn’t have the right consistency.  Something was…off. This one honestly was a challenge for me. So like many of you I turned to Google to figure out what I was missing.  Don’t ask me how I found it but I came across a UK company that had a chocolate crusted pizza that was actual pizza dough.  I did some reading about it and them.  Eventually I found their recipe (everything is on the Internet) and saw that ours were pretty similar.  The whole chocolate pizza dough concept is pretty standard – flour, salt, yeast, sugar, cocoa and water.  Where ours differed is they used olive oil and I was using canola oil.  Since theirs looked awesome I swapped out my canola for olive oil and made the dough.  It looked good but…. but… I hated the taste.  The olive oil, to me, was a bad, bad idea.  So back to the drawing board… er flour board.

Chocolate Caramel Pizza Puffs

It wasn’t until I was making my Sicilian Crust pizza the one day did it dawn on me to try butter in my chocolate dough.  The butter made sense.  It lent to that soft, tender dough texture that I wanted.  Needless to say I got out the ingredients and made another batch.  Well the texture was spot-on but the flavor was just … I don’t know; it just wasn’t there.  So for at least a year I put this in the archives and kind of forgot about it.

Chocolate Caramel Pizza Puffs4

Flash forward to me in my kitchen, CRAVING pizza and chocolate! Seriously I don’t know how all of your pregnant folks handle cravings. I’d go nuts! Since I was older (and wiser.. HA!) I dug out my recipe and gave it a good look over. One thing about me is I have awesome food taste memory retention.  This has been one of the best gifts if you will that was given to me from my parents.  This is why I can recreate their unwritten recipes from my childhood.  Anyway, as I studied my recipe I thought back to the last batch and what was missing.  It just wasn’t quite… “chocolately”. Like I tasted more dough (flour) than cocoa.  The answer wasn’t to decrease one ingredient and increase another – trust me, that never works in baked goods.  I needed to enhance it.

But how?

Um.. DUH!  What do I preach to you guys about what are 2 of the most IMPORTANT baking ingredients you can have in your house when making anything chocolate? Espresso powder and Chocolate Extract!  Seriously, those 2 ingredients have been in my house for decades and I never thought once to try them in the recipe.

Chocolate Caramel Pizza Puffs1

Immediately I got out ingredients and pretty much said/thought ‘if I don’t nail it this time, I’m not meant to create this recipe!’  Yes, I was ready to throw in the towel.  Well okay not really, I never give up on anything.  Trust me, ask Mr. Fantabulous!  LOL  In to the oven went another batch.  Anxiously I sat by the oven door waiting… watching… and praying they turned out.  I was getting frustrated.  I’m a very, VERY analytical thinker and when I can’t figure something out it drives me nuts.  This recipe had been that proverbial thorn in my side for years and I had to nail it this time.

I just had to nail it, had to.

When I pulled them out of the oven I could smell the chocolate.  I was pretty hopeful at this point but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  On some of them I could see little pools of caramel oozing out and just begging to be inhaled.  However if I would have taken a bite I would have probably burnt the inside of my mouth really, bad so I resisted.  Partly for safety sake and partly for fear; fear of disappointment if I didn’t nail it.

As they cooled I topped them with the melted ganache (it was very thick and barely pourable which is what I wanted).    I topped them with bits of flaky sea salt and picked one up to try…

Chocolate Caramel Pizza Puffs2

I, very gently, opened one up to see the texture of the dough.  As I did this I was met with a pool of luscious gooey caramel.  I first broke off a piece of just the dough – no ganache and no caramel (trust me, it was super hard to resist!) to try it.  NAILED IT!  It had just enough chocolate flavor to shine through without being overpowering.  It was tender and chewy (like how pizza dough should be) but so flavorful!  Needless to say the split open one you see below didn’t last long at all.  Like we’re talking the one half when in my mouth quickly followed by the other half. I was doing the happy dance in my kitchen licking my fingers.

It’s funny because as I was doing this (literally I was dancing around with one of these in between my fingers, licking the chocolate and caramel goodness), Mr. Fantabulous came out and spied me.  When I realized I had been busted I just looked at him and told him he had to try this and shoved one in his mouth.  Yeah, he wasn’t getting a chance to protest.  No way.  What was funny was to watch his facial expressions.  Eyes wide open which then turned to a very inquisitive look followed by a huge smile and his eyes spying up the rest of these.  Like a mama bear though I stood in front of the pan guarding them.  I mean I didn’t want to share.  I wanted to save them.. frame them perhaps.  LOL

When I explained what I made he was like “Chocolate pizza dough?  Like actual pizza dough that’s chocolate?… Whoa!”  and that was it.. as he took another on his way out of the kitchen.  These Chocolate Caramel Pizza Puffs are insane and so going to blow your mind!

Chocolate Caramel Pizza Puffs3

So what’s the moral here kids? Never give up… on anything in life.  If you want it bad enough, you can do it.  All it takes is hard work, dedication and a desire.

Check out the rest of the Countdown to Christmas 2014 recipes, tips and tricks!

Day 4 - Countdown to Christmas 2014 Chocolate Caramel Pizza Puffs
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Chocolate Pizza Dough
  • 18-24 soft caramels, unwrapped
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the yeast, chocolate extract, sugar and water.
  2. Gently mix and set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to bloom.
  3. Once the yeast has bloomed, add in the flour, espresso powder, cocoa and fit your mixer with a dough hook.
  4. Mix on low just until loosely combined.
  5. Add in the butter while the mixer is running stopping if need be to scrape down the sides.
  6. After 3 minutes of mixing, add in the salt. You never want to add the salt directly to the yeast as that will kill it on contact.
  7. Mix until a soft, smooth elastic ball forms; ~8-10 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl but still be wet/tacky to the touch. If need be add a Tbl of flour or so to help combine. If it’s too dry, add a Tbl of water.
  8. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a very lightly floured surface.
  9. Give it a few kneads to form the dough into a smooth ball tucking the ‘ends’ underneath.
  10. Place in a lightly oiled bowl (at least 2-3 times bigger than the ball) and cover with plastic wrap. If you have a bread proofer, just place in an oiled bowl and into the proofer at 78F. Both should be in a draft-free place. Alternately you can place this whole bowl in the refrigerator (covered) overnight. The slow cold rise will help build the flavors.
  11. Allow to rise until doubled in size; about 60-90 minutes.
  12. When ready to use, preheat oven to 425F with the rack in the middle.
  13. Lightly spray a 9x13” metal pan and then line with parchment (leaving a 1” overhang).
  14. Spray the parchment paper and set the pan aside.
  15. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and flatten out each piece on a lightly floured board to a 4” round circle.
  16. In the center of each circle add 2 soft caramels.
  17. Gently pinch the ends together and tuck into itself until tightly sealed.
  18. Place seam side down in the pan.
  19. Repeat until all the dough is used up
  20. Place the puffs on the pan leaving about a 1/2” space in between each one.
  21. Bake for 20 -22 minutes or until the dough feels firm to the touch but has some give.
  22. Remove from the oven and top each one with some melted Chocolate Ganache and sea salt.
You need these in your pantry for any chocolate baked good!

Chocolate Extract and Espresso Powder

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