Monday, April 16, 2012

Caramelized Balsamic Onion and Parmesan Mini Pizzas

Whenever we take a road trip that happens to take us through Idaho Springs around lunch or dinner time, one of our favorite places to stop to eat is Beau Jo's.  There are several locations in Colorado, but the original restaurant is in Idaho Springs, and they make fantastic pizza.  I know everyone raves about NY-style pizza, but I'll admit I've never tasted it.  Maybe I just don't know what I'm missing, but I like Colorado pizza.

I think my favorite thing that Beau Jo's does is to serve honey with the pizza - for dipping their amazing, chewy crust into after you've finished a slice.  The combination is surprisingly delicious.

Lately, we've been making homemade pizza on Saturday or Sunday nights.  I like the chance to experiment with different styles of crust (remember when I made a Margherita Pizza using a recipe for Naan?).  As far as toppings go, I've decided that I prefer the minimalist pizzas - little to no sauce, just olive oil, 2-3 delicious ingredients, a sprinkling of herbs and cheese.  Nothing too fancy.  Less is more.

After eating ham, carrots, potatoes and hot cross buns for dinner and then again for lunch the next day on Easter weekend, as well as a breakfast of scrambled eggs and ham, I wanted to make something for dinner that didn't involve any of those foods.  I found two portions of mini pizza dough in the freezer that I'd made a few weeks before, and set those on the counter to thaw for dinner.

The mini pizza dough is possibly my favorite dough I've made so far - although there's really no need to pick a favorite.  Trying a variety of techniques and flavors is what makes it so fun.

I made this particular dough with honey and cinnamon in the dough, and used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, and the result was a slightly sweet dough that baked nice and chewy, while still crisp.  So yummy.

There wasn't much in the fridge by way of toppings, but I found an onion and a tomato, and a small wedge of Parmesan cheese.  Sounds like the makings of a pizza to me!  I thinly sliced the onions and got them caramelizing in a skillet - on impulse, I grabbed the bottle of balsamic vinegar and stirred a few teaspoons into the caramelized onions to add another dimension of sweetness and flavor.

A little cracked pepper, oregano and crushed red pepper were all the seasoning the pizzas needed, with some honey on the side, of course.  Simple, easy and so delicious.

Caramelized Balsamic Onion and Parmesan Mini Pizzas
printable recipe

  • recipe for Honey Pizza Dough (below), for 4 mini pizzas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing on the dough
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  •  freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or your favorite pizza cheese)
  • honey, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 450.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sliced onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until a deep golden brown.  When the onion is caramelized, remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Meanwhile, roll out each portion of the dough to about 8 inches in diameter.  Place dough on the baking sheets.  Use a fork to lightly prick the dough, about an inch from the edge all around, and then several times in the middle - this will help to prevent the dough from bubbling too much in the middle.

Brush the dough with olive oil, about a teaspoon per portion.  Sprinkle with the crushed red pepper, oregano and cracked pepper, using as much as you like to suit your taste.  Pre-bake the dough for 5 minutes - after 5 minutes it will be a very pale golden and slightly bubbled.

Remove from the oven and top with the sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions and Parmesan cheese.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

Slice each pizza into 4 pieces; serve with honey on the side for dipping the crust.

Yields 4 servings.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Honey Pizza Dough

  • 1 ¼ cups very warm water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 ¾ cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine ½ cup of the water with the yeast.  Let stand for 5 minutes until foamy.  Add 1 cup of the flour, the salt, cinnamon, honey and olive oil.  With the dough hook attachment, stir on low to combine.  Add the remainder of the water and flour and stir until moistened and the dough pulls together.  Increase speed to medium and knead for 5-7 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  If you press a finger in the dough, it should hold the indentation, and spring back very slowly.  This can also be kneaded by hand.

Gather the dough into a ball and smooth out the surface.  Place dough smooth side up, in an oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or you can use your pizza stone if you have one.

Dump out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch to release the air.  Using a knife or dough scraper, cut into 4 equal portions.  (If you’d like to save any of the dough for later, just place each portion into an individual zip-lock freezer bag and freeze for future use.)  Shape each portion into a ball then let the dough balls rest for 5 minutes.  Roll or press each ball out into a disk measuring about 8 inches in diameter.  If the dough is too stiff to work with, let it rest for another 5-10 minutes, then come back and continue rolling.

Place the disks of dough on the parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake as directed above.

For a thinner, crispier crust, work the air out of each portion of dough as you roll it out, and bake right away.
For a softer, puffier crust, be careful not to overwork the dough (using your fingers to shape the disks is better than rolling it out).  Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise again for 10-15 minutes before baking.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen