First on the First: Pasta with Poet in the Pantry

by FoodBabbles on September 1, 2011

Last month, I tackled the long-awaited project of creme brulee as part of a list of mutual goals between Carrie and I. Well, this month we’re back and there’s pasta on the menu! We both have wanted to try our hand at making fresh pasta at home from scratch. In my pre-blogging days I had envisioned this project as something that surely would be smothered in some cheesy, tomatoe-y goodness when I finally went ahead and made it.

Flash forward to now… here I am the author of a dessert blog cause sweets are just what I do. So how to make pasta and still stay true to the theme of my blog? Now keep an open mind and stay with me here… dessert lasagna. I say, “Yes!” I wasn’t exactly sure when I came up with this idea how it would pan out however, I am pleased to announce it was delicious!! It definitely works!

When Carrie and I were discussing our pasta projects she was reminiscing about an infomercial she remembered for a pasta maker that made her want to buy it purely because of the chocolate pasta on the commercial. When it came time for me to formulate my pasta plan I decided cocoa pasta was exactly the way to go. I combined layers of cocoa laden lasagna noodles with sweetened ricotta that is kissed with orange zest then a sprinkle of crushed chocolate cookies to add a little texture. This all gets baked up and ends with melted dark chocolate on top.The pasta actually isn’t sweet at all making the other chocolate elements with the ricotta a perfect balance.

Now, this project (like so many others at times) was not without its snafus. But snafus are learning experiences, right? Let me start by saying that I pulled double duty on this project. I actually made pasta twice. Not by choice. Unfortunately my first attempt came out ridiculously, unmanageably dry. Under the advice of several various internet sources water was added resulting in a sticky, unrollable mess even after lightly flouring before trying to pass it through the roller. My pasta roller just basically shredded the dough.

So after I trashed that batch, it was back to the drawing board. Instead of using the original recipe I had intended to use, I decided to consult the nifty little book that came with my pasta roller. This recipe had much better results! My snafu results in me being able to show you two different ways to make pasta though… one with the use of a mixer and the other without. My other snafus were I needed to make a larger well for my eggs in the flour and that I should have rolled my pasta thinner. Another two passes through the next smallest setting on the pasta roller was in order for sure. Lessons learned.

Here’s the thing though… Sadly, this is one of those desserts that just isn’t photogenic. It wasn’t something pretty as I put it together and once I baked it, it didn’t get any prettier. Also, once it’s done and you cut into it, it becomes a delicious mess. Delicious messes do not photograph… at all. So unfortunately I cannot present to you the perfect square of lasagna that illustrates layers of cocoa pasta, ricotta and cookies as I had originally intended. This makes me sad however, I assure you despite this not being a picture perfect dessert it’s definitely something out of the ordinary and I felt it was quite scrumptious.

Now, don’t forget to scoot on over to Poet in the Pantry to see what Carrie decided to create when she made pasta!

Enjoy!

~K

PS…  Working together again, Carrie and I had planned to share our results on August 30th–one month exactly after crème brûlée. However, Carrie had a few things come up… oh and well there was a little thing that hit us both pretty hard called “Hurricane Irene.” We felt an extension was in order Lo and behold, we ended up choosing to post on the first of September instead–and First on the First was born. Each month we’ll be trying something that is a “first” us and posting on the first so keep your eyes peeled for the results of our endeavors!

Chocolate Lasagna

Pasta adapted from the Kitchen Aid Pasta Roller manual. Yield: 1 1⁄4 pounds dough. **You’ll only need half of this however having only this experience with pasta making I didn’t want to mess with the recipe.**

Cocoa Pasta

3 1⁄2 c. sifted all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

5 large eggs (7⁄8 c. eggs)

1⁄2 c. water

1⁄2 tsp salt

Stand Mixer Instructions

– Place all ingredients in mixer bowl.

– Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.

– Exchange flat beater for dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead 2 minutes.

– Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1 to 2 minutes. (further instruction continues after handmade instructions)

Handmade Instructions

– Place flour and cocoa powder in a bowl or flat work surface. Form a pile. Create a large well in the center of the dry ingredients. (Bigger than the one I created)

– Into the well add eggs, salt and water.

– Using a fork, stir the eggs without disrupting the flour pile and allow flour to fall in from the sides.

– Gently start to incorporate the flour into the eggs a little bit at a time. Once you have incorporated all the flour into the egg mixture, use your fingertips to blend the mixture together well.

– Now form a ball with your hands. If it’s too dry I learned that you should add a little more egg. Don’t add water.

– Knead the dough ball until smooth, about 7 minutes.

Instruction continuation for both methods…

– Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

– Divide dough into 4 pieces.

– Flatten to about 1/2″ thickness on a lightly floured work surface.

– Roll through pasta roller, starting with the widest setting and decreasing roller setting with each pass until desired thickness.

– Cut to desired width.

– Boil in salted water for 5-6 minutes.

– Immediately run under cold water to stop cooking process.

Chocolate Lasagna 

1/2 lb homemade cocoa lasagna noodles OR 1/2 lb regular boxed lasagna noodles, cooked and cooled

2 c. ricotta cheese

1 c. powdered sugar, sifted

2 large eggs

zest of 1 orange

16 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate

16 crushed Oreo cookies or chocolate wafer cookies

– Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

– Whisk together ricotta, powdered sugar, orange zest and eggs.

– Place 1/4 of the ricotta mixture in the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking dish.

– Layer noodles over ricotta. Top with second 1/4 of ricotta.

– Sprinkle with 1/3 chocolate chips.

– Sprinkle with 1/2 the crushed cookies.

– Top with pasta.

– Repeat. Top final pasta layer with last 1/4 of the ricotta mixture.

– Bake for 30-35 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of baking, sprinkle with remaining 1/3 of chocolate chips.

– Remove from oven. Gently spread chocolate with spatula, if desired. Let lasagna stand for 10-15 minutes then serve warm.

– Enjoy!