Esquites Pizza starts with a homemade focaccia bread crust that is topped with a creamy spicy sauce, mozzarella cheese, cotija cheese, and roasted corn. If this sounds good to you, be sure to try my creamy Esquites soup!
Esquites, or Mexican Street Corn, is a must-have dish when visiting Mexico and has been popularized here in the USA as well. Authentic Esquites is prepared with white Mexican corn, elote blanco, not sweet corn. I have a variation of Esquites you may want to try.
In this recipe, I topped homemade focaccia bread with many of the same ingredients used in my Esquites recipe. It’s a pizza with a little bit of a kick from the jalapeno pepper with lots of flavor in each bite.
There are four parts to this recipe–the focaccia bread crust, the roasted corn, sauce, and the toppings.
Warm Water: To activate the yeast, the temperature of the water should be between 105-115°F. If the water is too warm (over 120°F), it will kill the yeast.
Active Dry Yeast: Active dry yeast needs to be proofed (or dissolved) in warm water before being added to the rest of the ingredients. This activates the yeast.
Sweet Corn: I opted for canned corn in this recipe as I love the sweet corn with the spice. But, you could use fresh sweet corn if it’s in season.
Cilantro: Fresh is best! When at the store pick up the cilantro and smell it. You may need to reach far in the back and get the freshest bunch! Be sure to wash it well before removing the leaves and discarding the stems. Be sure to save some for the topping.
Jalapeño Pepper: You can adjust the amount of jalapeno added according to your heat preference. So, how you can you tell if the jalapeno is spicy? The older the pepper the spicier it will be. Looking at a pepper, the older ones will have stress marks, like little white lines or flecks on the flesh. The younger (less spicy) peppers will have clear shiny flesh. So if you like them hot, pick the older pepper. If you like the mild, pick the younger one (and feel free to add more)!
Mexican Crema: Crema is the Mexican version of French crème fraîche. Both are slightly soured and thickened cream, however, crema is milder and thinner than American sour cream. In a pinch, you could use sour cream. Most grocery stores do carry it though!
Cotija Cheese: Cotija is a Hispanic-style cheese named after the town of Cotija in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It is a hard, crumbly cheese is made mainly from cow’s milk. It is a bit salty and similar in texture to feta. This may seem bold, but I do not recommend making this dish without it! While I have seen some folks use parmesan, the Cojita cheese adds something unparalleled.
Focaccia Bread Dough
Ever since I made Focaccia Pepperoni Pizza, I knew I had to use focaccia bread in more recipes! In fact, I now have Buffalo Chicken Focaccia Bread, Cheesy Onion Focaccia Bread, and Focaccia Cheesy Garlic Bread. So, it made sense to add another delicious focaccia bread recipe to the mix!
To make Esquites Pizza, start by preparing the dough. In a large bowl, combine the yeast, water, and sugar. Stir this together and let it rest for five minutes. While that is resting, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, Italian seasoning, sea salt, and garlic.
Pour half of the olive oil mixture into the yeast mixture, setting the other half of the oil mixture aside for later. Stir in the flour and put the dough into a greased bowl. Cover the dough with a tea towel for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
How to Toast the Corn
As the bread dough is rising, toast the corn in a 12-inch cast-iron or oven-safe skillet. First, heat the oil until it is hot. Next, add the corn and cook until it is golden brown, stirring occasionally. This takes about 15 minutes. Then, add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Remove the skillet from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes before transferring the corn to a separate bowl. Set the corn aside and wipe down the skillet.
How to Make Esquites Pizza
When ready, pour the remaining oil mixture into the cast-iron skillet and use a brush to coat the skillet. Add the dough to the skillet and press it out to the edges. Dimple the dough with your fingers. You don’t need to press down hard, just make dents.
With the dough in the skillet, mix together the ingredients in the sauce. Top the dough with the sauce, followed by mozzarella cheese, cotija cheese, and the toasted corn. Bake the pizza for 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove the pizza from the oven and top with more cotija cheese and cilantro. Enjoy!
Love Corn? Check out these Corn Recipes!
Esquites Pizza starts with a homemade focaccia bread crust that is topped with a creamy spicy sauce, mozzarella cheese, cotija cheese, and roasted corn.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 cup canned sweet corn
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ¼ cup cilantro coarsely chopped
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- ½ cup Mexican crema
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more for garnish
- 1½ teaspoons chili powder
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese, plus more for garnish
- cilantro, for garnish
In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, and sugar. Stir and let it rest 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, and garlic.
Pour half of the oil mixture into the yeast mixture. Set the remaining oil aside.
Add flour and stir to combine.
Add dough to a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel. Rest for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the corn to cool for a few minutes. Transfer the corn to a separate bowl and wipe down the skillet.
In a small bowl combine cilantro, jalapeño, Mexican crema, lime juice, and chili powder. Stir to combine.
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Pour the remaining oil mixture into the cast-iron skillet. Use a pastry brush to coat the pan.
Add the dough to the pan and work the dough to the edges. Use your fingers to create dimples in the dough.
Top the dough with the sauce, mozzarella cheese, cotija cheese, and finally, the corn.
Set in the oven to bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
Garnish with additional cotija cheese, lime juice, and cilantro. Serve.