Stuffed Shells – As a dessert?

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!

Chocolate Dough

  • 1 3/4 c Flour
  • 1/4 c Cocoa powder
  • 2 Egg
  • 4 T Water
  1. 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.

Ricotta-Mascarpone Filling

  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. Whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar to stiff peaks.
  3. 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.