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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Homemade pizza + PW's mocha brownies = killer combo

Last Thursday night was Lady's (and a gentleman's) Night at my apartment before we headed to Psycho Suzi's in Northeast.  Appetizers and wine of course were exchanged.  My friend Laura so generously brought fenomal almonds coated in a sugar and cayenne mixture.  I single-handedly probably ate half of the bowl.  Part of me is hesitant to even ask for the recipe because I am sure I would eat the whole batch in one sitting if I made them!

I took the opportunity to make homemade pizzas.  I have had the dough recipe for a while now and have been dying to try it.  A woman I work with - Kelsey - recommended it to me and said it was fantastic.  My experience with homemade pizza thus far has been unmemorable - always too doughly - so I was excited to try this recipe for a lighter, crispier crust.

As usual, I baked for the gathering, too - Pioneer Woman's mocha brownies.  One bite of these babies and you will die of delight.

So, let's do dessert first.

Mocha Brownies, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

2 1-oz squares unsweetened chocolate
1 stick butter
1 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 C + 2 T all-purpose flour

For the icing:

1 stick butter
2 1/2 C powdered sugar
2 T cocoa powder
1/8 t salt
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 C strongly brewed coffee, at room temperature

Preheat your oven to 325.  Spray an 8 x 8 in cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. 

Begin by making your brownie batter.  In a microwave safe bowl, melt your chocolate squares slowly - at 70% power, stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate is completely melted.  Set aside. 

Cream the butter and sugar.

Now beat in the eggs.

While mixing on low, pour your melted chocolate in to the bowl.  Mix in the vanilla extract.

Add the flour to your batter and beat until just combined.  Do not overmix.  The batter will be thick - yum!  Pour in to your prepared baking pan and spread evenly.

Bake for about 22 minutes, then check with a toothpick.  Bake longer as needed.  Set aside to cool before icing.

Now for the best part - mocha icing!

Soften the butter a bit, and combine with all ingredients EXCEPT the coffee.  Whip with an electric mixer until smooth.  Then add your coffee and mix.  If the icing is a bit too thick, feel free to add more coffee, a little at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

Spread the frosting over the cooled brownies, and dig in!  You won't be able to stop.  It took all of the self-control I had to just have two.

And now for a savory treat.

This was my first attempt at homemade crust, and I am pleased to say that it was a success.  The recipe is modified from 101 Cookbooks.

Here is what you will need:

Note:  I made half of this batch, which made two thin, 8-10 inch pizzas.

4 1/2 C all-purpose flour chilled
1 3/4 t salt
1 t instant yeast
1 3/4 C ice cold water

Stir the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.  Use a large metal spoon to mix in the cold water until all is absorbed.  At this point, I got my hands dirty.  Dip your hand in to flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hand.  Knead the dough with your hand for five to seven minutes, spinning the bowl with your other hand in one direction, then the other, while you knead.  The dough should be springy and elastic.

Take half of the dough, roll it in to a ball with your hands, and spread a bit of olive oil over the ball.  Place in a ziploc bag and refrigerate over night.  Do the same with the other half of the dough.  You can keep the dough in your fridge for up to three days.

On the day you would like to make the pizza, preheat your oven to 550.  For best results bake on a pizza stone, but you can also use a baking sheet.  Place the pizza stone in the oven to heat before baking the pizza. 

Spread flour over a sanitary work surface.  I used my counter.  Place a dough ball on to the surface.  With floured hands, spread the dough until it is about 8-10 inches in diameter.

You may put whatever you'd like on your pizzas.  I made spinach tomato feta pizzas.  Here is what I did:

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, sea salt, fresh cracked rainbow peppercorns, and two cloves garlic, pressed.

Pour a bit over each crust and spread with your fingers.

Then I covered each crust with spinach, sliced roma tomatoes, and feta.

To make your life easier, transfer one of the pizzas on to a well-floured baking sheet, then to the hot pizza stone.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until the crust in golden brown on the edges and crispy in the middle.

I forgot to get a picture of the end result.  Darn!  Sorry guys.

It was a successful menu for the night.

And these are my beautiful friends.



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