Now here’s a holiday I can really get into: World Nutella Day. Organized by bloggers Ms. Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso, this annual event celebrates its 2nd Anniversary on February 5th. All you need in order to participate is a love for Nutella, the creamy Italian hazelnut spread. That’s a requirement I can handle.
When I found out about this event a few days ago, I knew I wanted to celebrate the chocolaty spread with a recipe. We’ve known each other for a long time. While I was growing up, Nutella often visited my Italian-born mother’s pantry. It accompanied me home from my Italian study abroad trip in college and, more recently, from various business trips to Italy. But what kind of recipe could I create that would be worthy of this beloved snack food? After discussing the possibilities during a homemade pizza dinner with Jim, I realized I had the answer right in my hands: Nutella pizza!
As a child I devoured Nutella on white bread, enjoying it as a decadent alternative to peanut butter and jelly. But since I’m much older and wiser now, I wanted to incorporate a healthy aspect into my soon-to-be-devised dessert. I decided that a whole-wheat pizza crust would pair well with the nutty chocolate spread.
For my first attempt, I started with Cooking Light’s recipe for whole-wheat pizza dough. After I assembled the dough, I rolled it out, placed it on my pizza stone, and baked it for 12 minutes at 500 degrees. I let the crust cool and then joyously coated it with Nutella, adding a few bananas as well. That was the end of my Nutella-inspired fun, as unfortunately the crust was brittle and inedible. Something in my approach needed to change.
My biggest obstacle was the crust. Baking it without toppings had led to an inflexible and harsh crust, something more akin to a crisp cracker. During my second try a few days later, I melted some butter and brushed it onto the rolled-out dough before baking. Then I baked the crust at a lower temperature of 400 degrees for 12 minutes. I could see the difference as soon as I opened the oven door: The crust was brown and tender, the melted butter inviting and glistening. Instead of letting the crust cool, I slathered the Nutella on immediately, hoping that some of the moisture would be absorbed by the hot crust. More bananas, some powdered sugar, and my pizza was ready.
I took a bite and noticed that while the crust was still crispy, it was definitely softer than my first attempt. The nutty flavor of the whole-wheat crust was a complimentary base to the creamy Nutella spread and bananas. So while it took a few tries to get it right, my Nutella pizza arrived right in time for Nutella Day. I’m relieved. Grab a spoon and dig into your Nutella jar; it’s time to celebrate!
Recipe for Nutella and Banana Whole-Wheat Pizza
Prepare Cooking Light’s recipe for Whole-Wheat Dough (I substitute olive oil for cooking spray, but I doubt it makes a big difference. I also make the whole recipe and freeze half of it for another time. For this recipe, I use 1/4 of the dough in order to create a smaller pie, but feel free to create a bigger pie.)
1/2 banana, sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place pizza stone inside. While the stone is heating, roll out the dough into a thin circle on a floured surface. When stone is ready (it should pre-heat for at least 15 minutes), remove from oven and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place dough on the stone and brush with melted butter. Bake crust for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Crust will be brown and slightly bubbly when ready.
Remove pizza stone from the oven and shift crust to a plate. Brush generously with Nutella. Add sliced bananas (or experiment with whatever fruit you prefer). Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Serves 4 as dessert. Enjoy!