Baking is Rosanna Pansino’s love language, and when the holiday season rolls around she’s making family favorites, trying new things (like making a five-foot-tall gingerbread house) and spending more time with friends and family. Pansino is the bubbly force behind a baking YouTube channel with 13.1 million subscribers, a New York Times bestselling cookbook author, and the host of HBO Max’s BAKETOPIA.
One of her favorite holiday traditions is making Christmas-themed pizzas with her family. “Pizza is something that we make together often throughout the year, but it’s particularly special during the holidays,” she said. “Our family enjoys it so much that my dad’s nickname was always Papa Pizza.” She added that her family also has a friendly competition to see who can make the best pasta from scratch. “It wouldn’t be Christmas in our house without pizza and pasta!” Pansino was kind enough to share her recipe for Pull-Apart Tree Pizza (below), and you can find a video tutorial on her YouTube channel as well.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the holidays without cookies. “To me, December is officially cookie season!” Pansino said. “Not only do I bake my favorite holiday classics like gingerbread, snowball cookies and gingersnaps, but it’s also a special time to create cherished memories.” She mentioned that she got to bake cookies with her sister and two-year-old nephew twice last week. “Baking is my love language and time in the kitchen is even better when it’s spent with my family.”
When baking and decorating cookies with loved ones, Pansino recommends not stressing over any mishaps. “I always like to say that mistakes are delicious,” she said. “Christmas cookies are classic because they are hard to mess up!” For anyone that’s up for a challenge, Ro notes that you can weave sugar cookie dough together to make intricate designs. “It’s a really fun technique I learned a few years ago,” she said. “It takes some extra time, but the results are stunning. My favorite cookies to make this way are my woven stocking cookies. You could also make them look like Christmas sweaters!”
This holiday season, Pansino is looking forward to extra time with family, delicious food, decorations and Christmas music. “There is something magical about a good Christmas playlist that brings back all the best memories from growing up,” she said. Pansino went all out with the Christmas decorations this year. “I even had REAL snow blown into the front yard for my Christmas party!”
Pull-Apart Tree Pizza
Recipe by Rosanna Pansino
Yields 4-6 servings
For the Pizza Dough
1 c flour, plus more for rolling
1 envelope Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 c very warm water (120° to 130°F)
3 Tbsp corn oil
5 string cheese sticks
1 Tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, Fleischmann’s yeast, sugar and salt.
Add the warm water and corn oil and mix together until well combined.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about three minutes. The dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky.
Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
Cut the mozzarella sticks into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
On a floured surface, form the dough into a soft ball and divide into two. Roll the dough into a long rectangle and cut into 2-inch squares. You will need 22 total.
Take a piece of mozzarella cheese and wrap it with the cut dough. Form it into a ball and place it seam side down on the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and cheese pieces to form a tree shape.
In a small bowl, beat together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Use a pastry brush to cover the dough with the egg wash.
Bake the dough until the crust is golden brown, 18-20 minutes.
1/4 c melted butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 Tbsp basil, sliced finely
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped finely
1/4 c finely shredded Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Marinara sauce, for dipping
In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, garlic powder and rosemary until well combined.
While warm, brush the topping generously on top of the pizza balls.
Sprinkle with Parmesan, basil, parsley and red pepper flakes.
Serve warm with marinara sauce.