A few months ago I wrote about my first experience with chocolate pasta. Since then I've often thought about the endless possibilities of sweet flavour combinations.
After a recent pasta-making class at Quince cooking studio in Vancouver, I promptly raced out and finally bought a pasta machine.
The cooking class was taught by chef Adam Pegg of La Quercia restaurant. Pegg studied in Italy for several years and spent much of his time studying pasta-making techniques in the Emilia-Romagna region. Emilia-Romagna is considered by many in Italy to produce some of the country's finest fresh pasta.
Pegg recalled his good fortune in spending many a day with little old ladies in their homes learning how to perfect their craft. Even as a young man Pegg couldn't keep up with the dexterous workings of those seasoned veterans.
During class we learned how to make orecchiette (little ears), mini gnocchi, fettucine and ravioli. I've been wanting to make my own ravioli for a while, especially paper-thin sheets, which I think, makes for the best ravioli.
So I bought my new machine this Sunday morning past and set it to work as soon as I got home. Our glass dining table became a mini pasta workshop. The flour was flying. Several happy hours later I was serving ricotta and lemon zest-filled ravioli topped with a dark chocolate sauce, followed by fettucine served with shaved Himalayan truffles (the poor man's truffle, but more on that next week).
The ravioli was sublime. If you don't have a pasta machine and can't be bothered making your own then you could always substitute the pasta with Chinese dumpling wrappers but there's just something about freshly made pasta that cannot be topped.
Ricotta Ravioli with Dark Chocolate Sauce
100 grams of all-purpose of 00 flour
3/4 cup of ricotta
2 tbs of lemon zest
1 tbs of icing sugar
3/4 cup of semi-sweet, dark chocolate chips
1 cup of cream
Step 1: Make a well in the flour. Crack the egg into the well. Use a fork to break the egg and mix it into the flour until combined.
Step 2: Once combined, dust your hands with flour and proceed to knead the dough. Fold it in half and then press down on it with your palm.
Step 3: Keep kneading the dough for about 10 minutes (yes, it seems like a long time - even longer when you're doing it) until it becomes smooth. Poke a finger into the middle of the dough. If it feels even a little bit sticky then add a little more flour to the board (1 tablespoon) and keep kneading the dough.
Step 4: Clear the board or table of flour and keep kneading until the dough is smooth and firm.
Step 5: Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes. Flour the board and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough a little. Make sure the dough is at least 2 1/2" or 7cm wide. Sprinkle a little flour on the dough and rub it on both sides.
Step 6: Set the pasta machine on a thin setting. Roll the pasta through the machine making sure to gently pull it through the other side.
Step 7: Run the pasta through the machine again to make sure it's thin and smooth.
Step 8: Slice off the ends of the long pasta sheet so that they're neat.
Step 9: Spoon teaspoonfuls of the ricotta-lemon zest mixture along the pasta sheet length-ways with about 1 1/2" (4cm) of space in between each. Make sure you have enough space to fold the pasta over the ricotta length-ways.
Step 10: Fold the the pasta over length-ways. Use your fingers to gently press around each mound of ricotta to ensure that all the air is pushed out from the little pockets. Press the pasta down firmly to seal it. Use a sharp knife to slice between each ravioli.
Step 11: Place individual raviolis on a floured board to sit while you boil the water and make the chocolate sauce.
Place dark chocolate chips in a metal bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Make sure the water isn't touching the bowl. Gently bring water to the boil and stir the chocolate. Add cream and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
Boil a pot of water for the ravioli. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, gently place 6 raviolis into the water. Let them boil for about 2-3 minutes. Remove raviolis with a slotted spoon and shake them to get rid of excess water. Repeat process with remaining raviolis.
Step 12: Serve raviolis on a plate and drizzle with warm chocolate sauce.