Hello, from The Gluttonous Geek! Welcome back to the blog for another recipe inspired by the comedy-improv podcast, Hello from the Magic Tavern: Pizza Skull Cheese Balls!
For those who have not yet heard of this show, the story follows a human – Arnie Niekamp – after he falls through an enchanted portal behind a Chicago Burger King into a fantastical sword-and-sorcery-style world named Foon. Unable to find his way home, he hosts a weekly podcast in the tavern, The Vermillion Minotaur, interviewing the various creatures he meets there.
This is fifth Magic Tavern recipe I’ve done for the blog. With our Wizard Halloween Party coming up, this podcast keeps delivering magical food ideas perfect for the occasion. Last year’s party featured Usidore’s Salsa of Light and Shadow. This year I managed to pick up a Nordicware skull pan at Williams-Sonoma super on-sale, so I thought a Pizza-Skull recipe would fit our need for Foonish-food.
Click here to skip to the recipe for Pizza Skull Cheese Balls.
The Pizza Champion of Foon
Pizza Skull is a giant, cannibalistic floating skull made of pizza. I say cannibalistic because he loves eating pizza, and it fuels his pizza powers. We meet him during Chunt’s Night (Chunt’s weekly variety show in the Vermillion Minotaur) where he tells us his origin story.
Pizza Skull died in a pizza-related accident and went to pizza hell (I can’t imagine what this post is doing for my search-engine rankings for pizza, please don’t put me in Google jail!). There he completed seven pizza tasks in Herculean fashion to return as the Pizza Champion of Foon.
By Pizza Champion, I mean he returns to use his pizza powers for good in feeding orphans and stopping famine. So I suppose you can say that Pizza Skull is the epitome of benevolent cannibalism? Only in Foon, folks!
Behold the Powers of Pizza Skull!
I know the Nordicware skull cake pan is no secret to the Magic Tavern fans since the pizza-filled skull video went viral. However, I had a different usage in mind. Like I said earlier, I was planning to use this pan for my annual Wizard-themed Halloween party. I could spend the entire day baking up dozens of pizza-skull-rolls, six at a time. OR I could make something that feeds dozens ahead of time that serves perfectly cold.
It doesn’t require a degree from the Halls of Terr’akas or Jizzleknob Preparatory to realize which was the better decision. Also since I have friends with pizza preferences and food allergies, it made sense to offer up some variety. That’s why I’ve made up not one, but three varieties of pizza skull cheese balls! Don’t worry. I’ll spare you the authentic Foonish pizza experience. There will be no anchovy sauce, beets, moss, or fox fur in this recipe.
My first order of business was to make a cheese ball mix that actually tastes like pizza before incorporating any “toppings.” I thought an Italian mix of cheeses would work well, luckily most grocery stores carry an “Italian blend” shredded cheese that will save you the hassle and cost of finding them separately.
Pizza’s iconic flavor doesn’t just come from cheese, though. It’s that sublime combination of tomato, herbs, and garlic that melds with it and whisks your tastebuds to Za’ Heaven. With this in mind, I incorporated Italian seasoning, garlic powder, fennel seed, and tomato paste into the recipe. The critical components to this flavor, though, are the fennel seed and tomato paste. Tomato paste acts as both sweetening and acidic element to balance and enhance the flavors present. While fennel seed, as the distinct ingredient in Italian sausage, reminds everyone of pizza.
After making up this base recipe, all there is a matter of adding “toppings” to each one and decorating them. I’ve included instructions on how to make two of each variety. First, we have the vegetarian option, a Pizza Margherita-Skull with fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes.
Then to the Islands, whether Oahu or Migas, with a Hawaiian Pizza Skull, stuffed like a Kahlua pig with Canadian bacon and pineapple, and decorated with red pepper flakes!
And finally, it’s good to enjoy some pizzeria classics with this Supreme Pizza Skull featuring green bell pepper, pepperoni, and black olives.
This recipe will make up six Pizza Skulls in total, and while that may seem like a lot to serve in one party, Pizza Skull is a powerful being with the ability to disappear. That said, it’s perfectly acceptable to serve three at a time while chilling the others for another round of snacks — especially after one too many rainbow bowls!
Pizza Skull, A Party Favorite
Pizza Skull Cheese Balls
Equipment: Nordic-ware skull cake pan, two mixing bowls, two spatulas, plastic wrap, refrigerator, and food processor.
Pizza Cheese Ball Base:
- 24 oz. blocks of softened cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 24 oz. shredded six-cheese Italian blend
- 1/4 cup minced pepperoni
- 2 tablespoon minced black olive
- 1/4 cup minced green pepper
- 1/4 cup minced pineapple
- 1/4 cup Canadian Bacon
- 1/4 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- Dried basil
- Red pepper flakes
- minced sun-dried tomato
- 2-3 slices pepperoni
- 4-6 black olive slices
- 2-3 teaspoons minced pineapple
- Pour the shredded cheese to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Empty the contents into a large mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, fennel seed, and tomato paste to the food processor then pulse to blend thoroughly.
- Scrape the seasoned cream cheese into the same bowl and use two spatulas to blend the cheeses to a uniform consistency. Flatten the cheese in the bowl with a spatula and divide into thirds.
- Scoop a third into the other mixing bowl, then fold in the ingredients for the “Supreme” pizza cheese balls. Flatten this mix then divide in half. Line two of the pan’s compartments with a generous portion of plastic wrap. Scoop half of the mix into one of them and gently push into the nooks and crannies with a spatula. Fold the edges of the plastic to cover the cheese and push more firmly to set it. Do this to the other half of the mix.
- Repeat step 3 with the Hawaiian and Margherita pizza cheese ball ingredients.
- Place the whole pan in the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours.
- When set, carefully pull each cheese ball out of the mold by the plastic wrap. Unwrap the backing and place each one on your serving plate before removing the rest of the wrap. Smooth the cheese lightly with your fingernail.
To decorate the Supreme Pizza Skull:
Tear pieces of pepperoni to fit the hollows of the eyes, nose, and under the cheekbones of the skulls and place them accordingly. Mince two of the olive slices and arrange them like teeth. Finish the skulls by adding olive slices as eyes.
To decorate the Hawaiian Pizza Skull:
Fill the hollows of the eyes and nose with minced pineapple. Apply red pepper flakes to make teeth, pupils for the eyes, and hollows under the cheekbones.
To decorate the Margherita Pizza Skull:
Apply dried basil to the teeth, the hollows of the eyes, the nose, and under the cheekbones. Add sun-dried tomatoes as teeth and eye-pupils.
Place cheeseballs of the same “toppings” in the same column of the pan together, then serve them in the same order on the plate. Do this because the Margherita and Supreme cheese skulls look similar when unwrapped. Only present three cheese balls at a time so that the other three will be perfectly fresh when the first batch runs out.