Yes people! Believe it or not I made this happen! My friend Mel decided to have a throwdown for stuffed shells. She “claims” she makes the absolute best ( 😉 just kidding Mel, they rule! ) so she challenged all of us to try to beat her famous stuffed shells. I usually don’t get very adventurous with my stuffed shells. I’ve always stuck to the basics – buying shells, ricotta, some seasonings, baked with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan. They are pretty tasty but I didn’t feel it was throw down material. As I thought about different variations such as adding sausage, or grilled veggies, or seafood I had an epiphany – can I somehow turn this into a dessert? I started thinking of all the possibilities. I knew I had seen chocolate pasta dough before – but I wasn’t so sure how the pasta texture would work. I thought of making a shell out of chocolate – but then thought Mel would definitely say I cheated. I went back to plan A. I would have to make a chocolate shell out of pasta dough. I looked up recipes on the internet for chocolate dough and found one that seemed simple enough. It was just like regular pasta dough only 1/4 cup of flour was exchanged with 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. My next obstacle. How the heck was I going to make a shell? This one took me some time to figure out. I asked around and even though many good ideas were given to me I didn’t have enough supplies to make as many as I wanted. While I was rummaging through the “junk drawer” I came across a bag of water balloons. LIGHTBULB! I decided to blow up the water balloons to the desired size of my chocolate shell then I would just pop the balloon when it dries. I won’t lie – I felt pretty brilliant.
Those were my first attempts at making my chocolate shells. Sadly, they came out much better than my second attempt! But that’s okay, I accepted that. My next plan was stuffing. I still wanted to stick to the basic recipe for stuffed shells. I knew I needed to use ricotta. I came across a recipe on the internet for Ricotta Mascarpone filling that was meant to go into a cannoli. I had to leave out the lemon juice since I have a severe citrus allergy – however I do feel the filling was missing an acidic taste to it so I do suggest that if you were to make it to definitely add the citrus. I did cover the stuffed shell with a strawberry sauce which added some acidity but I feel that more acid in the filling would have made it that much better.
I came to the party confident in my brilliant idea. To be honest though – that’s all I was confident in! I felt that I had a completely brilliant out-of-the-box idea but I was still concerned about how the pasta dough with a dessert would work out. The dish presentation was beautiful – the filling tasted awesome and so did the strawberry sauce. But to be honest I really couldn’t get pasta the pasta texture with my dessert. I had joked saying “I don’t like my desserts being al dente”. I do feel that it’s a recipe I can play with and maybe perfect some day. I do feel that if it was a chocolate shell (minus the pasta part) it would have been amazing. I knew that if I didn’t do pasta or ricotta I would have been considered a cheater and that’s when I went that route. I do not feel it was a complete flop – it was just different!
- 1 3/4 c Flour
- 1/4 c Cocoa powder
- 2 Egg
- 4 T Water
- Make just like any other pasta. Make your well with the dry goods and add the wet in the middle until you form a dough ball. Let it rest before rolling out.
- 24 ounces whole milk ricotta
- 12 ounces mascarpone
- 2 ounces sugar
- 2 Tablespoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1 ounce powdered sugar
- Process the ricotta , mascarpone, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir the zest and vanilla into the ricotta.
- Whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar to stiff peaks.
- Stir a small amount of the whipped cream into the ricotta mixture to lighten it. Add the remaining whipped cream and gently fold together until well combined.
Strawberry Sauce – I don’t really have a recipe for this! I just cut up fresh strawberries then cooked them down with some sugar, a little water, a splash of vanilla and cornstarch if needed.