Got kids? Need appetizers? Want football munchies other than Doritos? Whether you need to bring an appetizer to a holiday affair or you’re having a crowd over for football bowl games or you’ve just got lots of kids hanging around the house, you’ll want to whip up batches of these popular, bite-sized, Pepperoni Pizza Puffs and serve them with a flavorful, homemade, pizza sauce. Stir, bake, dip and eat – this make-ahead dish makes entertaining so deliciously easy!
Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
Adapted from a recipe by Rachael Ray
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces (about 1 cup) mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 ounces pepperoni (about 1 cup), cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons finely slivered fresh basil
1/2 cup store-bought or homemade pizza sauce (recipe below)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven.
3. Sprinkle the puffs with 1 tablespoon of basil.
4. Microwave the pizza sauce (recipe below) until warmed through, pour into a serving bowl, sprinkle remaining basil on top for garnish, and serve with the puffs.
5. Do ahead note: Freeze the baked puffs in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag. To reheat, bake the frozen puffs on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
Exquisite Pizza Sauce
Adapted from a recipe by Angie Gorkoff
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
6 fluid ounces of warm water
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
1. In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, anchovy paste, onion powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and mix together, breaking up any clumps of Parmesan cheese. Add salt as needed.*
2. Sauce should sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors. At this point you would normally spread the sauce on pizza dough, but to use it as a dip for the Pepperoni Pizza Puffs, just pour some of the sauce in a serving bowl.
Serves 4 (pizzas), but serves more when used as a dip.
1. I purchased sliced pepperoni and stacked them into short stacks. I sliced each stack into strips and then turned the stacks around to slice the strips into 1/4- to 1/2-inch squares.
2. A word about the anchovy paste: I didn’t have anchovy paste, but I did have a can of anchovies. I threw four to five fillets into my mini-food processor and gave them a whirl until a paste formed. Even if you don’t care for anchovies, don’t leave them out of this recipe! You don’t taste them in the sauce, but they do lend some depth to the flavor.
3. *The sauce should sit for a while to allow the flavors to meld before you decide to add additional salt. Not much salt needs to be added because of the saltiness of the anchovies.
4. The pizza puff recipe can easily be adapted. If you would like to substitute your favorite pizza ingredients for the pepperoni, try to keep the total quantity of add-ins to 3/4 cup, so that the batter-to-ingredient-ratio stays the same as in the original recipe. Next time I make pizza puffs, I’m going to add cooked Italian turkey sausage and some sliced olives.
5. Tastes much better hot, but that’s probably not an issue since they disappear so quickly!