When I took this pizza out of the oven my parents thought the pie was made with real chicken and dairy cheese. Nope, it's vegan! I'm kinda proud of myself for finding a way to make the cheese look like real melted mozzarella. I shall share my secret in a moment.
One of my beefs (no meat pun intended) with most vegan pizza I've tried or seen is that the cheese doesn't look melted or tastes like you would imagine vegan cheese to taste. I've been doing experiments with different vegan cheeses, and this experiment proved successful.
This is only the second time I've ever made pizza at home. The first time was a disaster because the baking pan I used burned the outside of the crust and left the inside a bit gooey. This time I bought a pizza stone, and what a difference. I bought my stone at Cost Plus World Market for $12.99, and what a great investment.
My crust turned out fat because I didn't roll out the dough thin enough, but that's okay. We can be creative and call it fat crust versus thick crust like we did it on purpose. I like my pizza topping heavy, so as you can see I loaded up on the stuff. The crust is a darker brown because it's made with whole wheat.
This entire pizza is made with pre-made ingredients I purchased from two stores: Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.
From Whole Foods:
- Lamonica's frozen whole wheat pizza dough
- Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips
- Daiya Vegan Jalapeno Garlic Havarti Wedge
- Bob's Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour
From Trader Joe's:
- Kinder's brand Mild BBQ sauce
- Trader Joe's brand Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds
- Fresh Basil
- 1/4 cup Chopped White Mushrooms
- 1/4 Chopped Red Onion
Daiya also has a Jack Wedge which is another nice looking cheese that is white like mozzarella, but it doesn't have as much flavor as the Havarti. If you like mild, try the Jack. Although the Havarti has Jalapeno, the heat is really mild to almost non-existent, at least to me.
If you don't have a Whole Foods nearby, Trader Joe's also has pre-made pizza dough and vegan chick'n strips. I really like the Beyond Meat Chicken because it shreds like real chicken. With the barbecue sauce, the Beyond Meat Chicken comes very close to the taste and texture of real chicken. Remember my Beyond Meat chicken salads?
I used the coconut flour instead of wheat flour to help roll out the dough and to make shreds with the Daiya Havarti wedge because loose wheat flour can burn. Cornmeal is also recommended.
Here's the secret to making my melty looking vegan cheese. I combined two different vegan cheeses, the Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella and the Daiya Havarti wedge which I turned into shreds. Daiya does make mozzarella shreds, but I do not care for the taste and I don't like how it melts. The Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella by itself doesn't melt that great in my opinion and is not that tasty.
The Daiya Wedges have the best melt I have seen of any vegan cheese on the market to date. My vegan grilled cheese sandwich and cheesey vegan Cheddar Mac & Cheese are classics that I still cannot believe are dairy-free!
When you mix the Daiya and Trader Joe's cheese together some magic happens!
The trick to making Diaya Havarti shreds
I tried making shreds with the Daiya Havarti wedge straight on a handheld cheese shredder and it was a disaster because the havarti is too soft and clumps so you end up with a sticky ball. What works better is to cut about a 1/4 of the whole wedge, coat it with some coconut flour or cornmeal, and put the wedge into the freezer for about 90 minutes so the cheese hardens but is not rock solid.
The semi-frozen havarti will now make some nice shreds that won't stick together. As you shred, periodically stop and sprinkle some of the coconut flour on the shreds and mix them around so the shreds coat with the flour. This will help prevent the shreds from clumping together. In a bowl, blend the Trader Joe's vegan cheese and Daiya Havarti together.
An important point about the cheese
Save the shredding of the Daiya Havarti until the very end. Rolled out your pizza dough to your desired pizza size, and top your pizza with the BBQ sauce, Beyond Meat Chicken, mushrooms, red onion, and basil. Blend the TJ cheese and Daiya Havarti together and top at the very end because the Havarti will warm up fast and start clumping together. The key is to keep the Daiya as frozen as long as possible.
I baked my pizza on the stone for 15 minutes at 450 degrees rotating the pizza about 90 degrees every five minutes. Another good tip is to pre-heat the stone for about 10 minutes before you put your pizza on top of it.
Now that I have discovered a cool way to make melty looking vegan cheese on pizza, I cannot wait to try other flavor combinations. Are there any tricks you've used to make melty and better tasting vegan cheese for pizza?