The famous hanky pankies appetizer in pull-apart form, perfect party food for the holidays, the Super Bowl, or any gathering with friends and family. A crowd-pleaser, for sure!
Hanky Pankies are my favorite decadent, special-occasions appetizers ever. I know it’s not particularly kosher (and technically speaking, these things are not kosher at all, lol) for a vegetable-focused, home-cookin’-lovin’ girl with a mile-long family history of heart disease to love anything smothered in processed cheese product.
But we humans are a contrary bunch, and our decisions and preferences sometimes don’t make a lick of sense. Or sensibility. So, there ya go. (Which is my only excuse for this post, lol.)
But, there’s just one thing about Hanky Pankies that sort of bugs me: they look disgusting.
If you’re new to the wonders of the Hanky Panky appetizer, it’s that filling (above) spread on little rafts of rye bread, baked until toasty, and then piled on a platter. Which, if you’ll excuse me for being a bit graphic on a food blog, looks like something you might find in a flu ward. I’m sorry, that’s just the truth of it.
Once you bite into one, however, everything else falls away in a moment of cheesy beefy bliss, but you have to get the peeples to take that first bite.
There’s no question that Hanky Pankies will be served at my appetizer-heavy Christmas celebration with the fam — we all know the nature of the Hanky Panky, and we forgive its less than glamorous appearance — but it got me thinking about how to make it a little more appealing.
And that’s when the pull-apart presentation hit me. Spooned into pizza dough rounds and crimped into a ball, these two-bite hanky pankies make the perfect finger food. And pizza dough does a bang up job of hiding the questionable appeal of goopy ground meat.
Ready-to-use pizza dough should be easy to find in stores. And my grocery even carries pre-rolled pizza dough wrapped in parchment paper, which made me all like aaaahhhhhhh [angels singing in sweet soprano voices] when I first went ingredient-shopping to put my hanky pankies pull-aparts to the test.
Vegetarians, I haven’t forgotten you! I tested this recipe using meatless crumbles, and it turned out fantastic. In addition to the spices listed in this recipe, mix in some dried Italian herb seasoning, and a skosh more salt and vegetarian Worcestershire sauce. I bet your carnivores wouldn’t even notice the difference!
Die-hard Hanky Pankies fans will notice that I use a few more spices than the traditional recipe. That’s because the hanky pankies have to balance out the pizza dough, and the extra spices punches up the flavor nicely.
Serving suggestion: while hanky pankies can definitely stand on their own, serving them with a dipping sauce is a festive idea, especially for Super Bowl parties, where everything is over the top. A creamy BBQ- or mustard-based dipping sauce would be awesome!
Two-bite Hanky Pankies Pull-Aparts
- 1 1/4 pound ground beef
- 1/4 pound pork sausage
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 4 ounces processed cheese (such as Velveeta)
- 16-24 ounces pizza dough, brought to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- flaky salt, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium. Add the beef and sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps. When the meat has almost completely browned, drain off the fat and return to heat. Add the onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, garlic powder, and chili powder over the meat mixture and stir well. Add the cheese and mix until completely melted. Remove the skillet from heat and the let the mixture rest and cool.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 10" x 15" rectangle. Using a 3" round cookie cutter, cut out 20-24 circles (if need be, gather up the scraps, re-roll, and cut).
- Spoon a nice, heaping teaspoon of the meat mixture onto the center of one dough circle. Gently fold the dough in half and pinch close, then bring the two ends of the half moon to meet up and over the seam, so it looks similar to a drawstring purse. Pinch the open edges closed, then turn the ball over (so the seams are on the bottom), and use your fingers to shape up the ball. Place it on the baking sheet, seams down.
- Repeat with the remaining dough circles and meat mixture. Arrange the balls so they're touching on the baking sheet. You can form shapes, such as a wreath, or a Christmas tree.
- Brush the pull-aparts with melted butter, then place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. The pull-aparts should be a golden brown. If your oven bakes unevenly (like mine does), turn off the oven, and turn on the broiler (on low, if possible). Keep a close eye on the pull-aparts while the broiler browns the tops.
- Remove, and immediately brush with more butter. Sprinkle with the flaky finishing salt. Transfer to a serving platter.