There are three reasons that pizza is delicious. First, the cheese. Second, the sauce. And third, the dough, which bakes into a perfectly crisp and chewy crust. Amazingly, if you remove both the cheese and the sauce, you’ll find that pizza dough is versatile beyond so much more than just margherita pies. You already know about calzones and garlic knots, but did you know you can stretch dough into dessert? With a few sweet additions, your potential crust can turn into a decadent ending for your meal. Here are 8 tantalizing desserts that you can easily make with store-bought pizza dough.
Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon rolls always smell and taste like a labor of love. By substituting pizza dough for the standard sweet dough, which takes forever to rise, our cinnamon roll recipe takes out some of the labor but none of the love. After pressing the the dough into large rectangles, the idea is to paint the surface with homemade cinnamon-sugar-butter filling, roll the rectangle up, cut into pieces, then bake. The final move is to glaze the freshly baked rolls with icing.
Churros are delicious donuts, shaped long and thin with grooves to hold all the granulated sugar that gets shaken on after cooking. Instead of frying your pizza dough here, to make baked churros, you can make a less rich version of churros by sprinkling rolled-out rectangles of dough with cinnamon and sugar and cut them into strips, then twisting each strip to seal in the topping. If you make these, you’ll want to bake them until the churros are puffed and golden. Serve with thick hot chocolate, the traditional choice for dunking.
Pre-made pizza dough gives you the ability to make savory pizzas, yes, but also to expand your offerings into dessert. You can go in a million different directions with this dessert pizza, letting your creativity come up with cool ideas for the “sauce,” “cheese” and “toppings.” Here’s one: brush the round of dough with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar before baking. Just before taking it out of the oven, add a layer of lemon curd; bake two more minutes. Top that with sweetened mascarpone and fresh raspberries.
Like cinnamon roll dough, the standard mix for these little Italian doughnuts takes a while to rise. Start with premade pizza dough and dessert is yours much more quickly. Heat 1 ½ inches of oil in a large stockpot, cook the fritters in small batches, turning over a few times, then drain on paper towels. You can serve the zeppole with a dusting of powdered sugar or with chocolate sauce on the side for dipping.
(Image: Bon Appetit)
Pizza Dough Bread Pudding
This pizza dough bread pudding is a two-step process. First, bake up the dough in plain little rolls. When cool, tear them up and place them in a baking dish. Mix together a custard of eggs, sugar, half and half, vanilla and toss in other ingredients you like: Nutella, chopped chocolate, bananas and peaches are all great choices. Pour the custard over the rolls, adding extra half and half to completely cover. Let soak for an hour, then bake until the pudding rises like a soufflé. Serve with caramel or chocolate sauce and ice cream.
(Image: Sweet Fine Day)
Sweet Soft Pretzels
Divine soft pretzel dough shares more than a few commonalities with pizza. That means you can easily shape pre-made pizza dough first into coils and then into pretzels. To sweeten them up, you have two options: fold chocolate or toasted nuts into the dough as your work it into pretzel shapes, or finish the baked pretzels with something sweet (melted butter and sugar or a pour of chocolate glaze are both great options).
(Image: Martha Stewart)
If you’ve never had it, monkey bread is a genius mash-up of bread pudding and cinnamon rolls. Pieces of biscuit dough are coated in cinnamon, sugar, and butter, then baked all together in a bundt pan. When done, the coating turns into gooey coating for each piece of dough, which cooks up flaky and rich. You can pull pieces off with your fingers and deliver them straight to your mouth. Substitute pizza dough for traditional biscuits and you’re eating monkey bread even faster. This version, from Girl Versus Dough, uses cherries and cheesecake flavors for a fantastic departure from the original.
(Image: Girl Versus Dough)
And now: it’s time to fry. Perhaps this is dangerous knowledge, but the delicious funnel cakes you love treating yourself to at street fairs aren’t hard to make at home. Press your pizza dough into small, flat rounds, then let them rest while you heat a pot of oil up to 375°F. Cook the disks a few at a time in the oil, then drain them on paper towels. Serve with powdered or cinnamon sugar and pretend you’re at the fair.
(Image: King Arthur Flour)