Stuffed Dough Ball Christmas Tree
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, how lovely are thy cheese pulls! Here, we combined mozzarella and our classic pizza dough into a fun, festive appetizer. Shaped like a Christmas tree (complete with a star on top) and covered in garlicky herb butter, these cheesy, stuffed dough balls are perfect for any holiday appetizer spread. Served with a bright red side of warm pizza sauce, this dish wears the colours of the season well and will delight kids and adults alike.
This recipe is designed to be easy — and you can sub in store-bought dough to make it even simpler — but there is one tasty complication: cheese leakage. Some might argue this is actually the best part, but it’s easy enough to avoid if you must: Just be sure to fold your dough balls carefully. We do this by pinching together a few seams and making four folds of dough over the cheese before rolling each piece into a ball. If the cheese still finds its way out of the dough pocket, don’t worry: Just christen it as a “snowy” Christmas tree and enjoy the caramelized edges!
21-25 stuffed dough balls
large baking sheet pan (max. 9 x 13”)
Silpat baking mat (to line the sheet and prevent burning)
3” cookie cutter or tumbler
Ooni pizza oven
Ooni Infrared Thermometer
Ooni Perforated Pizza Peel
Ooni Pizza Oven Gloves
28 ounces (800 grams) Classic Pizza Dough
7 ounces (200 grams) Classic Pizza Sauce
9 ounces (250 grams) mozzarella, chopped into 1” cubes
5 ounces (150 grams) butter, melted
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (12 grams) fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (18 grams) rosemary, finely choppedMethod
Prepare the dough ahead of time. Our guide to making the perfect classic pizza dough covers everything you need to know. (Though for this dish, it’s not necessary to ball your dough.) Just follow the Classic Pizza Dough recipe up until the bulk proofing step, since you’ll need a lot of proofed dough that’s ready to roll out, cut and shape into balls.
Fire up your oven. Aim for 480°F (250˚C) on the stone baking board inside. (You can check the temperature inside your oven quickly and easily using an infrared thermometer.)
Spread a tablespoon of melted butter over the surface of your baking pan.
Next, lightly flour your work surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten the pizza dough to about half an inch thick.Use a cookie cutter to punch 21-25 circles from the dough, reserving some leftover dough to make the star on top of your tree.Working one at a time, place a cheese cube in the center of each circle and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal. Roll the dough between your palms, as if you were forming a meatball, to form a smooth ball. Repeat with each dough circle.Place the balls on the baking sheet in the shape of a Christmas tree. Using a knife, cut a star from the reserved dough.
Tip: We made our star freehand, but you can use a star-shaped cookie cutter or stencil to make it easier and neater — or even just use a small dough ball as the “star.”
Place the sheet inside your oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the dough balls are puffed up and golden all over. Be sure to rotate the tray every 3-5 minutes to ensure the balls cook evenly and prevent them from burning.In a bowl, mix the garlic and herbs with the remaining melted butter. Remove the tray and brush the dough balls with garlic-herb butter.Serve hot, along with a bowl of warm pizza sauce for dipping.