Munching on this pizza makes me happy. It’s not just the flavors of the melted chocolate and gooey, golden marshmallows. It’s because even as I sit in my backyard hearing the traffic whiz by, I feel like I’m camping in the forests of Tahoe, where my family spends a lot of time in the summers. The smell of the wood smoking and the flavors of this pizza might have the same effect on you. It’s cathartic. Just don’t Zen out too quickly because marshmallows and chocolate burn easily-be sure to check the pizza after a few minutes of grilling.
Soaking the Plank
Start by using a clean, untreated piece of wood. Most of the wood planks sold in stores are 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Be sure to choose a plank that allows at least a 1-inch border around the food you are preparing. No matter the size, plan on soaking your plank for at least one hour, and up to twenty-four hours. This important step adds moisture that helps the wood to resist burning, which prolongs the use of your plank.
Place the plank in a kitchen sink, cooler, glass or ceramic baking dish, or any container large enough to fit it for soaking.
Soak the plank in water, or if you feel like being creative, try adding some white wine, beer, salt, or apple, berry, or citrus juice to the water.
Keep the plank submerged with something heavy, like a brick, so it stays weighted down during soaking.
Preheating the Plank
Preheating the plank before grilling is an important step. With woods like maple, oak, cherry, and alder, the plank will often begin to warp when placed over heat (cedar does not usually warp). Preheating the plank will control the warping, kill any bacteria on the cooking surface, and impart a more intense flavor to the food.
Before preheating the plank, have a spray bottle with water handy to smolder any flames if flare-ups occur.
For a gas grill, preheat your grill to medium-high, or about 400 degrees F. For a charcoal grill, prepare your grill for indirect cooking: Fill a chimney starter (charcoal chimney) to the top with charcoal. Light the charcoal and let it burn until half of the coals are glowing. Spread the coals onto half of the bottom of the grill, leaving the other side without coals (this is called the “indirect method”). Place the grill lid on top and fully open the top and bottom vents. If your grill does not have a thermometer, place a grill thermometer through one of the vent openings and let it sit for 5 minutes to get an accurate reading. If the grill gets too hot, close the vents partially and let the temperature adjust. Continue making adjustments to the vent openings until the grill reaches a consistent temperature of 400 degrees F.
For optimum smoke and wood flavor, place the plank 8 to 12 inches above the flame and close the grill lid. I prefer to place a plank on the warming rack of my gas grill for preheating and grilling. It takes a little longer to get it lightly toasted and get some smoke going (8 to 10 minutes), but it reduces the number of flare-ups so that you will get more uses out of the plank. If the plank is placed closer to the flame, you should see some light smoke after 3 to 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the grill if the plank is closer to the flame.
Once you see some light wisps of gray smoke emanating from the grill, open the grill lid and flip the plank over. If the plank has not bowed, you are ready to begin grilling. If warping occurs, close the lid again and continue preheating another minute or two until the plank flattens out. Continue flipping and heating the plank one or two more times until warping is controlled.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, game day
Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free
Type of Dishdessert, pizza
- 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (from 8 graham cracker squares ground in a food processor)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 pound store-bought or home-made pizza dough, at room temperature
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Coarse grind cornmeal, for sprinkling
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
Soak the plank for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Set aside.
On a well-floured surface, roll out the pizza dough as thinly as possible into a rectangle slightly larger than the plank you are using.
Prepare the plank for grilling according to the instructions (see Notes). Lightly spray the toasted side of the plank with the cooking spray and dust with cornmeal. Place the pizza dough on the prepared plank, folding up the edges so that the dough is the same size as the plank. Lightly prick the dough all over with a fork. Close the lid and grill for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the pizza dough is lightly browned and crisp.
Open the grill lid and sprinkle the marshmallows, chocolate, graham cracker mixture, and almonds over the pizza dough. Close the lid and grill until the chocolate has just melted and the marshmallows are golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pizza to a clean work surface and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
2014 Dana Guillen