Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Halloween pizzas


I promise the reason this pizza is black isn't because it was in the oven for too long! I purposely made the dough black with a very small amount of charcoal powder.

Food-grade activated charcoal powder is most commonly made by heating coconut shells to extremely high temperatures until they are completely burnt, according to Eater. Then the ash is processed with steam at extremely high temperatures. 

It is odorless and flavorless and was very popular across social media about six years ago because of its ability to turn foods a deep black hue. 

Important: Don't eat activated charcoal powder if you take medications because it can bind with those medications and cause them to be less effective, according to CNN.  Of course, you can skip it if you aren't comfortable using it or if you don't have any.

Some tips for making homemade pizza

  • A pizza stone makes the best crust, but if you don't have one, your next best bet is to use a cast iron skillet.
  • Cook the pizza in an oven as hot as your oven allows. My oven goes up to 500 degrees, but pizza ovens are around 800 degrees.
  • I recommend using bread flour because it has more gluten and protein than AP flour, which results in a denser, chewier crust. Pizza flour also exists, and it works well here, too, but it's a little harder to find.
  • If you can't find pizza yeast, use instant yeast, and allow the dough to rise in a covered bowl for 30 minutes after kneading it.

Halloween pumpkin pizzas

Yield: 4 personal pizzas

Time: About 30 minutes


For the pumpkin pizza sauce

  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the pizza dough

  • 2 cups (240 grams) bread flour (plus 1/4 cup reserved in case dough is too sticky)
  • 1 packet Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon food-grade activated charcoal powder
  • 2/3 cups warm water (130 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

Possible toppings

  • Mozzarella medallions, cut into ghost shapes
  • Capers
  • Mozzarella pearls, cut in half 
  • Black olives, sliced
  • String cheese, pulled apart


For the sauce

  1. Combine pumpkin puree, parmesan, garlic, vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.

For the pizza dough

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If using pizza stone, place in oven while oven heats up.
  2. Combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and food-grade activated charcoal powder in bowl. Add water and oil and mix until it comes together. Dough should be a slightly sticky. If it's too sticky, add up to 1/4 cup additional bread flour.
  3. Knead dough for about 4 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. I prefer to use my hands.
  4. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Flatten and stretch dough with hands until each piece is about 8 inches in diameter. 
  5. Spread pumpkin pizza sauce on dough, place dough on pizza stone or onto baking sheet, and stick in oven. Bake for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven. Place toppings on pizza. Return to oven just until cheese melts.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing.

For the toppings

  1. To make ghosts, place capers on mozzarella medallions to resemble eyes.
  2. To make eyeballs, place halved mozzarella pearls on sauce in pairs. Place black olive slices on center of pearls.
  3. To make spider web, place string cheese pieces in cross and X. Use string cheese pieces to make 2 giant circles on top of the cross and x. Make spiders with olives by using olive slices as the body and halved slices as the legs.


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