Saturday, July 10, 2010

whole wheat ham and cheddar pockets

IMG_0806 The marriage of ham and cheddar is a longstanding union- always predictable, always delicious- they are made for each other.  Their compatibility reaches new heights, though, when the salty smoked meat and tangy cheese are housed in whole wheat homemade  pizza crust* and baked to golden perfection.

While racking my brain to conjure up creative snack ideas for my daughter Annabelle’s kindergarten class, this recipe emerged.  It was a simple deduction:  kids love pizza, they typically like melted cheese and tend to prefer ham over other lunch meats.  More so, kids love the concept of food inside food, like a present you can eat.  And really, who doesn’t like a present you can eat?  The pockets boast three of the five food groups.  A side of fruit tacks on a fourth.  Parental seal of approval granted.

While the pockets baked I wondered, would the class like them or would they balk at the whole wheat crust and scrunch up their noses when they detected not one but two cheeses inside?According to Annabelle, all the children gobbled them up.  Twenty kindergarteners can’t be wrong, this one’s a keeper.

Side note: Assembling twenty miniature ham and cheddar pockets is not recommended at it is extremely labor intensive.  Only truly nutty nuts would attempt such a thing.  The recipe below makes 10 miniature or five large pockets.

whole wheat ham and cheddar pockets

yields 10 petite pockets or 5 meal-sized portions


whole wheat pizza dough*

1 cup wrist-temperature water
1 package active dry yeast (such as Fleischmann's)
1 T honey
1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 – 1 cup organic unbleached flour (Gold Medal) 


20 slices nitrite-free ham
1 1/2 cups shredded medium cheddar
1 cup cup shredded romano or parmesan cheese
olive oil for basting


for crust

Combine yeast with water, olive oil, honey and salt.  Stir until dissolved.  Let the mixture sit for five minutes to proof.

Whisk in flour until it is too thick to whisk.  Use one hand to knead the dough in the bowl for about five minutes.  Add flour until it is no longer sticky.

Drizzle a little olive oil in the bowl and turn the dough once to coat.  Cover the bowl and place in a warm, draft-free place for about one hour or until dough has doubled in bulk.


Once dough has risen, cut in half and divide each half into five equal portions.  Roll each portion into round discs, about 6 inches across.  

Divide 3/4 cup shredded cheddar amongst the discs, leaving a 1/2” border around the edge and reserving half of the dough for folding over the filling.  Next, add one slice ham, folded or torn to fit.  Divide and sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup cheddar over ham.  Finish with the shredded romano or parmesan.IMG_0798
Gently stretch 1/2 of the dough over the filling, sealing the edges by folding over and crimping.  If dough begins to dry, lightly brush edges with lukewarm water before sealing.  Brush pockets with olive oil.  Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 500 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and lightly golden on top. 
Serve hot or at room temperature.

*The pizza dough is quite versatile and works well for pizzas and calzones with any variation of toppings or filling.

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