From the realm that introduced the ideas of ‘stuffed crusts’ and ‘thin crusts’ comes another crust creation. I’ve heard of unusual toppings that go on a pizza, like Pizza Hut’s latest marshmallow, boba and cheese pizza with a milk tea sauce. Quirky crusts (or what goes into a pizza), however, aren’t as common. When it comes to ‘interesting’, though, there is one crust that takes the cake – or the crust in this case. Say “hello” to charcoal crusts.
In my latest trip to the shops, I thought of exploring the frozen section in the name of fun. While I was browsing the aisle and looking through glass freezer doors, something caught my eye. Right away, the lyrics “They’re creepy and they’re kooky, Mysterious and spooky” popped into my mind, with a slight urge to snap my fingers. Boxes of charcoal pizzas were arranged neatly, waiting patiently to make the acquaintance of yet another fascinated foodie! ‘Charcoal foods’ are rare finds at the supermarket (and charcoal pizzas, for that matter), hence my piqued curiosity. What does it taste like? How different will it be from regular pizza? With those questions, I added a box of the odd-looking frozen pizza to my shopping basket. It’s time to step into my sleuthing boots to seek the answers!
Made locally on the island, Sunshine’s frozen pizza range comprises of both classic and charcoal doughs. I chose the spicy chicken version, but there are cheese and BBQ chicken versions too. They are all available in both large and personal pan pizza sizes. As I couldn’t spot the large pizzas, I settled with the personal pan pizzas instead. I couldn’t wait any longer to be introduced to one of the newest kids on the pizza block!
Midnight sky-hued charcoal bites have taken the foodie world by storm. The idea of adding activated charcoal into recipes has resulted in scrumptious creations. As much as the trend has caught on with a variety of tastes, reactions might vary among foodies. Some of them may label these foods as either ‘goth’, ‘cool eats’ or ‘glorified burnt food’. I consider it ‘goth’ with a ‘shabby chic’ edge, because there is potential in executing this seemingly dark horse of an ingredient (no pun intended) in palatable possibilities.
From fast food, to cafés and restaurants, activated charcoal can impact the aesthetics and designs of dishes. As the ingredient tends to be included in doughs when it comes to savory bites (from my observation over the years, at least), it allows toppings (on pizzas) or fillings (in burgers) to shine on the plate with contrasting vibrant colors.
Additionally, from bits of sleuthing, I learnt that activated charcoal is traditionally used as a detox element for cleansing the stomach and body in general. The ingredient is safe for consumption in recipes, and it is highly suggested to be consumed in moderation.
A delightful scent of bell peppers greeted me as soon as I unboxed the pizzas. Like precious cargo (which I reckon is the case for hungry foodies), two pizzas are individually-wrapped in plastic sheet bags. With thin, frisbee-like dark bases and a mountain of toppings on the pizzas’ centers, the entire appearance of these frozen pizzas is undeniably unique.
Fresh from the oven, these pizzas have ‘goth’ written all over. Even so, the aroma is incredible. My nose couldn’t identify charcoal, although my eyes verified that charcoal is indeed present. Instantly, the Addams Family entered my thoughts yet again. These would fit right into their pizza nights, with the gang gathered around their enormous dinner table and feasting on comfort food, starring none other than their favorite color. I guess I know what Lurch needs to add to his grocery list for the Addams Family’s dinner this weekend – he should stock up on the larger version of these pizzas! I am sure that Pugsley will give his seal of approval in the flavor department, while reaching for Wednesday’s slice after devouring his share!
Activated charcoal is added into the pizza’s dough. Based on the list of ingredients, the dough is reminiscent to regular pizza dough, with the exception of charcoal powder. In my very first bite, I realized that it almost tastes identical to ‘normal’ pizzas. To my palate, there aren’t any burnt or smokey notes. Compared to traditional crusts, it has a subtle difference in taste, which I still can’t put my finger on to liken to a familiar flavor. The quirkiness’s effect entered in subsequent bites, though. Since I am used to classifying brunt-looking foods in the “overdone” category, I was half-expecting a different taste from “just right” when I was about to take another bite. It is a mind teaser! However, it didn’t take too long for me to adapt to the idea of delicious burnt-looking pizza after that.
Having been loaded heavily on the center of each base, the toppings covered more space on the pizzas’ bases while they were in the oven, thanks to melted cheese. Speaking of cheese, a medley of grated mozzarella and white cheddar cheese is placed above the other toppings, rather than beneath them! This results in a cheesy blanket that coats the other elements pretty comprehensively.
Completing the pizza puzzle are tomato sauce, red and green bell peppers (capsicums), pineapple chunks (the kind that belongs on Hawaiian pizza) and mildly-spicy chicken – a pleasant surprise to my chili-sensitive taste buds. The entire combination, which showcases classic toppings, is positively delicious. The veggies and pineapples are flavorful and not mushy, and the chicken is moist. Although the box indicated “extra spicy” in capital letters, it isn’t extremely spicy. The spice level is perfect for someone like me, who likes a bit of spiciness without needing a glass of water to extinguish the heat!
Finally, to answer my first question: its taste is close to good old pizza. As for my second question, the most noticeable difference is in the experience of sinking your teeth into a slice… the age-old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” couldn’t be more accurate!