Valentine's Day Dessert Pizzas
The foundation for these dessert pizzas is a batch of cookie batter that is then rolled or pressed out on a springform pan. I prefer the springform pan to a baking sheet because I can use its round shape as a guide. If you need a basic sugar cookie recipe, here's a classic from Betty Crocker. I'd recommend setting a timer for almost double the cooking time, then keeping an eye on it from there. When the edges turn golden, it should be done. On top of the cookie, you can layer Nutella, or any other spread you'd like to use. To make the sliced strawberries look more like hearts, cut out the stem in a v-shape.
Note: If you try another cookie dough, like peanut butter or double chocolate chunk, you'll probably still want to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour or so to make it easier to work with.
Gingerbread Orange-Spice Dessert Pizza with Orange Marscapone Frosting and Fresh Strawberry Hearts
Serves 8-16 (8 pizza-sized slices or 16 cake-sized)
If you love gingerbread (and oranges) as much as I do, this may just be the Valentine's Day (or any day, really) dessert you've been waiting for!
Heads up: the dough requires at least an hour in the refrigerator before rolling it out.
Cooking Time: 16-18 min. in oven preheated to 350° F.
Put the butter in a saucepan on low heat, or warm it in the microwave just until it turns liquid. Add the brown sugar, molasses, salt and spices to the butter. Don't forget the orange zest! (I almost did...)
Pour the butter, sugar, and spice mixture into a medium to large-sized bowl. I made do with a medium bowl, but I could have gone bigger. Wait for the mixture to cool (if it needs to) before beating in the egg.
Whisk the flour with the baking soda and baking powder in a bowl a little larger than the one I used. It should be large enough that 3 1/2 cups of flour won't spill out when stirring it. (I had to mix very carefully.)
After the egg has been beat into the liquid, pour the flour mixture into the bowl. You will likely want to use a wooden spoon, although the spatula I used is sturdier than it looks.
The dough will be very thick and stirring it feels more like kneading. You'll likely want to get your hands in there for the final mixing stretch, if not sooner. I honestly don't know how you'd get the dough into a ball using just a spoon. Once you've formed it into a ball, seal the bowl over with cling wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (I left it overnight.) The dough should be cold, or it can get sticky and difficult to roll out.
Well, after a good 24 hours in the refrigerator, the dough was plenty cold and hard as a rock. (I might recommend not leaving it in the refrigerator quite this long...) I gave up on the rolling pin and pushed it down with the pad of my hands. When the edges cracked, I just squished them back together while I continued pressing it down. After a point, I was able to use the rolling pin again and alternated that with my palms.
Note: If you refrigerate your dough for less time, stickiness could be an issue. If it is, you may want to roll the dough out on parchment paper, and even place cling wrap on top to prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin.
I got the dough down to the circumference of a 12" pan at 2cm. thick (a tad under an inch) by the time the oven was preheated to 350°F. I cooked it with the springform edging in case the dough spread (it didn't). I removed the gingerbread after 18 minutes. It was done, yet still chewy and moist.
While the gingerbread cooked, I made the orange marscapone frosting. I grated orange zest into a small bowl, then creamed it with the marscapone using a spoon. A beater might be easier. I added a bit of the orange juice and a bit of the powdered sugar, then mixed those in together. I alternated orange juice and powdered sugar until the orange juice was gone and the flavor was sweet enough to my liking (just short of 1 c. powdered sugar). Also, note that I used the marscapone cheese because I had some left over from another recipe. Cream cheese should work great. (But the marscapone really was delicious. I would highly recommend it.)
I mistakenly applied the frosting to the gingerbread too soon, and it melted around the edges. (I had to stick it in the refrigerator.) The lesson here is to wait until the gingerbread is cool (or at least cooler) to frost it.
When adding the strawberries, note that they juice when exposed to sugar. I'd recommend adding the strawberries just before serving, although they did seem to hold up fine in the refrigerator as leftovers. (It may depend on how much sugar you add to the frosting. With the Nutella, the strawberries juiced a little bit.) It should only take 3-4 berries to cover the pizza (you likely won't use all the pieces--just the shaplier ones). Cut the stem out at an angle to create a heart shape, then slice.
Cut the dessert like you would a pizza, or you can cut it again into 16th if you'd prefer smaller slices. This dessert is flavorful and rich, the gingerbread equivalent of flourless chocolate cake. Enjoy!
Gingerbread Spice-Orange Cookie Ingredients*:
* You may want to go lighter (or even heavier) on spices, depending on taste.
-3/4 c. unsalted butter or margarine (I used Earth Balance)
-3/4 c. brown sugar, packed (use less if you don't like things as sweet)
-3/4 c. molasses (I used blackstrap)
-1 tsp. salt
-zest from one large orange
-2 tsp. cinnamon
-1 Tbsp. ground ginger (+ 1 tsp. chopped fresh ginger--optional)
-1/2 tsp. allspice or cloves (+1/2 tsp. cardamom--optional)
-1 large egg
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
Creamy Orange Frosting:
-1-2 c. confectioner's sugar (depending on your sweet tooth--I used < 1 cup.)
-2 Tbsp. orange juice
-1 tsp. orange zest
-1/2 c. marscapone or cream cheese
Other Versions to Try:
-peanut butter cookie dough with chocolate frosting, topped w/ Reese Pieces or Peanut Butter Cups
-double chocolate chunk cookie dough w/choc. mousse frosting, topped with raspberries
-A cookie dough of your choice with frosting of choice, topped with conversation hearts, chocolate hearts, cinnamon hearts, or any other candy.
-large and medium mixing bowls