It was a long time before I realized that "pizookie" was a hybrid term for pizza-cookie. The zoooo-kie part was too distracting to actually sit down and think through the semantics. Plus, it really has little to do with pizza, besides the fact that it was conceived by the BJ's Chicago Pizza and Brewery chain, which has locations all over the West Coast and Southwest, as well as Texas, Florida, and a few Midwestern states. The menu says it all:
You’re never too old to enjoy our freshly baked, hot out of the oven, rich and delicious cookie topped with two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and served in its own deep dish. Your choice of chocolate chunk, white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin walnut, or OREO.
In high school, my friends and I would share pizookies (one was enough for two to three people) at the Laguna Beach location off Pacific Coast Highway. Maybe we ate "real dinner" beforehand, the chain's Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, but maybe we didn't. It was really about waiting for the pizookies. The waitstaff would warn you—it'll take about seven minutes. This factored in enough time for the cookie dough in six-inch pans (the same ones were used for the pizza) to bake just long enough for the outer ring to crispify while the central nucleus remained fluffy and doughy, arguably still in the salmonella-risk zone.
Chocolate chunk ($5.95) is the classic pizookie flavor. As long as every table ordered at least one of those, you could start branching out into the crazies ($5.50).
My pizookie nostalgia resurfaced recently when Robyn mentioned one she had two years ago (yeah, these things stick with you) in Tempe, Arizona, at the mini chain Oregano's. Wait, not BJ's? Uhhh, I think she meant to say pizookie knock-off. According to the Oregano's menu:
THE ORiGiNAL PiZZA COOKiE ($4.99): Now this will knock your socks off! A 1/2 pound of Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, or Peanut Butter Chocolate cookie dough, slightly baked in a 6-inch pizza pan then topped with 3 scoops of vanilla bean ice cream. This baby serves 2-4. DO iT!
Original (er, ORiGiNAL)? Really? The chain has only been around since 1993, whereas BJ's has been pizooking since 1978. Something about this Oregano's doppelgänger bugged me. Maybe it was the lowercase i's, or the extra time it takes to say "pizza cookie," or just my unwavering allegiance to BJ's. I wasn't buying it. But then I had to remind myself: the more pizookies in the world, the better, whether pizookies or pizza-cookies, original or not.
Since flying home to Laguna seemed too complicated, I set out to make a batch myself. Homemade cookie dough was an option but seemed like a huge waste of time (people should start measuring time in minutes-I-could-be-eating-a-pizookie-but-am-not). I stuck with the classic tube of Pillsbury "Chocolate-Chip Flavored Dough" (it really says that; kind of frightening) and a tub of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla.
At times like this, I wish there was a word for "make" but an even less intense version. Like, there is no making here. You squeeze a tube of dough (that someone else made), pat it down in a pan, stick it into the oven, go do something lazy, and finally scoop vanilla ice cream (that someone else made) on top.
1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Indeed, this seems hot for a cookie-related endeavor, but remember that BJ's is a pizza joint so these puppies usually bake in a cranked-up pizza oven.
2. Squeeze out all the goodness. Annoyingly, you need more than the typical 16.5-ounce tube found at stores. I used about 30 ounces of a mondo 40-ounce tube for a nine-inch pie pan, which was probably a tad too much. The thicker the dough layer, the longer it'll take to bake and you want the outer dough ring to crisp but not burn, while the innards should reach a gooey half-baked texture. Oh, chemistry.
A Quick Note on Pans: BJ's uses six-inch baking pans. The size definitely brainwashes you into thinking that plates are no longer necessary and wolfing down the entire thing in one sitting is totally acceptable. Which it is.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find the six-inchers and even went to a specialty baking supply store. My fantasy involved me asking the guy at the register: "Show me to the pizookie pans?" and him knowingly nodding and leading me to this magical shelf. Alas! I settled on a traditional nine-inch pie tin. And of course we shamelessly wolfed it down sans plates.
3. Here she is at 15 minutes.
4. And at 20ish.
5. Finally done around 25 minutes. It doesn't take this long at BJ's, but they're also dealing with a smaller circumference (ergo, less dough).
6. Let it cool for about, oh that's enough. Plop the vanilla ice cream on top!
Pizookie destruction shot.
The Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Pizookie
The benefits clearly outweigh the costs (finances, labor, etc.) in pizookification.
Total cost for cookie dough and ice cream: $7.09*
Total benefits: Joy, with very little room for risk or error.
* Yes, it was pricier than an actual BJ's pizookie, but I had three more radial inches of pizookie action and about ten ounces of extra dough leftover from the mondo tube.