You may recall that Kate at Food Babbles and I made crème brûlée together in July–a first for both of us. This goes back to my list of goals for this year and the fact that we both wanted to accomplish this same goal, so we decided to knock it off our lists at the same time, virtually baking together.
Homemade pasta was next on my agenda and Kate had never made that before either. Working together again, the plan was to share our results on August 30th–one month exactly after crème brûlée. I had some things come up, however, and needed an extension. Lo and behold, we ended up choosing to post on the first of September instead–and First on the First was born.
Do you remember those Ronco commercials a decade or so ago for that pasta maker they used to sell? I would watch that infomercial on lazy Saturday mornings, marveling at how easy pasta-making could be with their miracle machine. The clincher every time was when they brought out the chocolate pasta. For years, I kept trying to convince myself I needed a Ronco pasta maker because I desperately needed to make chocolate pasta. My life would not be complete without it. I had to have it. And yet, I never took the plunge and actually ordered the contraption. The Big Guy talked me out of it every time.
The idea of making pasta from scratch, without the benefit of a miracle machine, made me quite nervous. I’ve never prepared anything but boxed, dried pasta before, so I wasn’t even sure what consistency to aim for with the dough. But I forged ahead with this project and I have to say, it seems to be successful.
The pasta roller attachment–my first attachment I’ve ever purchased for my 6qt Kitchen Aid, even though I’ve had that thing for over 10 years now–caused some trepidation. Did I put it on correctly? Am I using it right? Why can’t I wash this thing first? There were so many questions popping up in my head. The truth is, after a few rounds of flattening, I figured it out. Sometimes I needed to add a little flour to the dough to keep it from snagging but for the most part, it was just a matter of feeding the dough into one end and catching it on the other. It does not take much time to master this.
I chose not to purchase any of the cutting attachments, so it was up to me to do the dirty work. Again, this was not a difficult task, I simply had to make sure the dough didn’t stick to my cutting surface. I used a pizza wheel and whizzed along, accumulating quite the pile of strips in no time. Sure, a cutting attachment would have been faster, but where’s the heart and soul in that?
I laid out the strips across the tops of open Gladware containers, both to keep them separated somewhat and allow them to dry a bit. I had read recommendations online to dry the pasta a bit before cooking, but you can certainly cook immediately. I’m not sure what difference you’ll get in consistency that way, but I have no complaints. It worked perfectly for me.
My noodles ended up somewhat stuck together in a clump on top of those Gladware containers, despite my half-hearted attempt otherwise. As I dumped the mess into the pot of boiling water, I envisioned a mass of mush forming–and was pleasantly surprised when *real* pasta resulted instead. They managed to not only sustain their shape, but separate as well. Yay, me!
The intent was to make a dessert pasta, so I started with the chocolate pasta dough and worked on an appropriate sauce. I found a White Chocolate Liqueur Sauce on Roti n Rice, but I did not have any white chocolate liqueur. I decided to substitute Irish Cream and try it anyway. While the sauce itself tasted pretty good, and it looked nice on top of the chocolate pasta–especially with white chocolate shavings on top, like a dessert Parmesan finishing touch–it was overwhelming. Too much. It’s not that it’s really sweet, because the pasta isn’t sweet at all. It’s just a bit over the top for my tastes, and that says a lot. My four-year-old wanted to eat it, but then I felt really bad because of the whopping 3 Tbsp of liqueur in the sauce (of which, there was probably only a teaspoon or two on the plate, if that) and I wouldn’t let him. There had to be a way to save the rest of the pasta!
As contradictory as it sounds, I put some jarred spaghetti sauce on top and hoped for the best. Ideally, if you’re going to make pasta, you’d probably make the sauce from scratch, too. But since this was not my original plan, I wasn’t ready with homemade tomato sauce. Despite this faux pas, the combination worked well, bringing out the sweetness of the tomatoes, something that is usually lost on a plate of regular pasta. Even the Parmesan on top wasn’t weird, though the thought of it does cause one to pause and consider that maybe, just maybe, you’re a little crazy. Chocolate pasta with four cheese tomato sauce and Parmesan on top? The answer is Sure, why not? If it tastes good, who cares what it sounds like.
I’m glad that I finally made my chocolate pasta, after all these years wondering about it. I’m also glad I never bought that Ronco pasta maker just for the chocolate pasta. Look at what I can accomplish without the expensive machine! Alright, I did use my Kitchen Aid mixer and an attachment–but I already had the mixer and the attachment was much cheaper than that Ronco thing. Plus I’ve heard tell that you can use it to roll out graham cracker dough, so it might be multi-purpose, too. We shall see…
One more first checked off the list. What should I make next…?
Don’t forget to check out Kate’s pasta! She made a delicious dessert lasagna. Love her interpretation!
- 1¾ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 large eggs
- 4-6 Tbsp water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour and cocoa powder. Mix with the paddle attachment until well-blended. Remove from mixer.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and crack the eggs into it. Scramble them with a fork, adding 2 Tbsp of water in the process.
- Start mixing in the flour/cocoa with the fork, adding more water as needed, 1 Tbsp at a time. You will have to finish bringing it together by hand.
- You can start kneading the dough in the mixing bowl, but I found it easier to lightly flour the counter and continue kneading there. Knead for 10 minutes, then cover with the mixing bowl and let the dough sit for 30 minutes to rest.
- Attach the pasta roller attachment to your mixer. Divide the dough into 4 portions. Take 1 portion and cover the rest with the bowl again. Feed the portion through the pasta roller per manufacturer's directions. In my case, I put it through setting 1 5-6 times, folding in half each time, then setting 2 2-3 times, and setting 3 1-2 times.
- Lay out dough sheet on a lightly floured work surface and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Lay out strips somewhere they can dry slightly--I hear wooden drying racks are great for this, but I just used the top of a Gladware type container. A friend recommended on cookie sheets lined with wax paper.
- Repeat with the other 3 portions of dough. Allow the noodles to air dry for 30 minutes or so.
- Fill a large pot with water and add to it ¼ cup granulated sugar. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and boil for 3½ minutes. Drain.
- Add your sauce--whether it's a dessert sauce, like White Chocolate Liqueur Sauce or a main dish tomato sauce--and serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.