Sweet Sauces

The idea of sweet pizzas, which involve a sweet sauce in some fashion, is a relatively new direction on the culinary highway. I devoted a chapter to “Dessert Pizzas” in my cookbook, The Ultimate Pizza Cookbook, which came out in 1995. In that book I provided recipes for six different dessert pizzas.

The standard technique I have developed for making a dessert pizza does not involve making any special types of dough. In fact, I use my basic dough recipe (flour, yeast, salt, water) to make all types of dessert pizza. The trick (and it is part of the dessert pizza recipes that follow) is to brush some type of fruit jam or preserve over the entire crust. Presto! Sweet pizza dough.

In some respects, I suppose we need to inject the idea of the Hawaiian pizza into this mix, because it happens to be quite popular. The popularity of Hawaiian pizza has to do with the simple idea of the sweetness of the pineapple playing off the smokiness of the ham (or Canadian bacon). The deal here, however, is that a typical Hawaiian pizza uses a basic pizza sauce, so there is nothing going on as it pertains to a sweet sauce. Nevertheless, I am providing a recipe for this popular pizza.

Now, though, the pendulum of pizza has swung in yet another direction and that is the focus of this article: How to fashion a few pizzas using a sweet sauce that takes the idea of pizza to another level of flavor. Let’s face it –– if your customer has just finished off an extra-large sausage and pepperoni pizza, the idea of a dessert pizza just might be one pizza too far.

What I am going for here is a way to straddle that line between a pizza with a sweet sauce, as in, say, a sweet and sour pizza, and still find a place for a tasty dessert pizza, so I am also including a recipe for a very tasty peanut butter and banana pizza.
Without further ado, then, here are three recipes to get you going on the idea of taking your pizza menu to yet another level.
Hint: when making this style of pizza I like to raise the edge of the crust by pinching and pulling it up to form a border. This gives this style of pizza a unique and pleasing look.

Hawaiian Pizza

There are many versions of Hawaiian pizza. Generally, though, it’s the idea of pineapple and ham. In this version, I like to lay down the sauce then half of the cheese, next the pineapple, then the remaining cheese. This way the cheese insulates the tomatoes from any excess moisture coming off the pineapple.
Should you wish to move a Hawaiian pizza to a more luxurious level, replace the ham with thin slivers of prosciutto.

Yield: one 14-inch pizza (scale up in direct proportion)

1 14-inch pizza shell. Press and form a 1/2-inch border around the crust
6 ounces pizza sauce or all-purpose ground tomatoes
10 ounces low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella
8 ounces pineapple tidbits (drained)
4 ounces coarsely chopped ham or Canadian bacon

Spread the pizza sauce evenly over the crust up to the formed border. Spread half of the mozzarella over the sauce. Spread the pineapple evenly over the mozzarella. Spread the ham evenly over the pineapple. Add the remaining mozzarella. Bake and serve.

Sweet and Sour Pizza

If you have ever had sweet and sour chicken in an Asian restaurant you will understand the idea behind this pizza. I sometimes replace the chicken with small chunks of cooked pork, so in that regard you could actually use the Italian sausage you have in house with this recipe.

Yield: one 14-inch pizza (scale up in direct proportion)

For the sweet and sour sauce combine the following:
6 ounces all-purpose ground tomatoes or tomato puree
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 tablespoons white vinegar

Toppings:
8 ounces cooked chicken chunks or tidbits
1/2 cup chopped scallions (white part only)
6 ounces low-moisture, part-skim shredded mozzarella
Spread the sauce over the crust up to the formed border. Sprinkle the chicken over the sauce. Sprinkle on the mozzarella. Bake and serve.

Banana and PB Pizza

This sweet pizza that’s a big hit with children (and adults, as well). The caramel sauce adds a luxurious touch of flavor. Another luxury option is to sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecans on the pizza after it comes out of the oven.

Yield: one 14-inch pizza (scale up in direct proportion

1 14-inch pizza crust
3 tablespoons strawberry jam, heated or microwaved to a spreadable consistency
3 rounded tablespoons creamy peanut butter, heated or microwaved to a spreadable consistency

3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced Crosswise ½-inch thick
1/4 cup caramel sauce, made in house (recipe follows) or store-bought

With your fingers, press and form (or braid) a 1-inch border around the crust.
Brush the crust including the border with the jam. Spread the peanut butter evenly over the crust up to the border. Arrange the bananas evenly over the peanut butter. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the bananas. Bake. Let cool for several minutes before cutting and serving. Can be made ahead and served at room temperature.

CARAMEL SAUCE
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture boils. Let simmer gently for three minutes. Use at once or refrigerate for up to 20 minutes before using. The sauce will keep in the cooler, covered, for several weeks. It thickens when chilled, so you may need to keep it on the steam table, heat it or leave it at room temperature for about one hour before using.

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