chocolate pasta with a brown butter hazelnut sauce

February 14, 2018

Valentines day tends to be a blur of petals, paper and chocolate. And so, years ago we decided to take the mania out of the day and try to really embrace the true sentiment of it all – a  sentiment that at its core, without all the fluff and pink and red ribbony, is genuine.  It is a unique moment each year to celebrate one of the sweetest delights of the everyday, love. Not the ambiguous, cerebral sort, but the specific, deep down sort of love that is given freely and wantonly. For us, valentines day has become a moment to pause and make an effort to give ourselves over to just being together, intentionally making space to honor that everyday love that we have built together over the last twelve years. Of course, it could be said that this should be done everyday, and I do agree, but life is messy, complicated, quick and does not always lend itself to acts of celebrating. So really, I embrace this as time to stop and celebrate, enjoy and revel in the love part.  We try to spend the most amount of time together in one of our favorite places, doing something that we enjoy and elevating it just a bit to feel celebratory – this inevitably means time together in the kitchen. We have cooked some incredible meals over the past decade (a seriously gorgeous cioppino in SanFrancisco and  handmade pizzas on the grill in a New England snow storm may top the list) and have had more fun than we ever did rushing to reservations at overly crowded, maxed out restaurants.

Admittedly, when the day falls on a weekend the celebratory factor is a little easier, romantic even – a Saturday spent strolling markets for ingredients, an exorbitant amount of time in the wine shop and the like –  but, weeknight are by nature more hurried and a little less luxurious. Even when its Valentines day, so I wanted to develop a recipe for us this year that would embrace the spirit of it all while still being completely achievable. This recipe for chocolate pasta covers all the bases. No special ingredients needed, most are already stocked in our pantry or easily purchased at any good market. Its savory, nutty and just enough unexpected to satisfy that celebratory craving. The idea of homemade pasta felt just the right amount indulgent and the chocolate a nod to the usual fuss of the day but with a slightly more modern twist.

I prefer to do the measurements for this recipe in grams on the kitchen scale. In fact, I prefer to do most of my measurements in general this way. But fear not, I have included measurements in cups as well. And if you don’t have a fancy pasta machine you can just use your rolling-pin. I did for years. The noodle shapes will be a little more rustic but no less tasty. Just make sure to roll out the dough into a rectangle like shape, about 1/4″ thick, and slice fettuccine shaped noodles with the tip of a sharp knife – you don’t want these noodles to be too thin anyway. If using a pasta machine, I first roll the dough through the largest opening (a 6 on my machine) then pass it through the next thickest opening (the number 5 on my machine). Again, you want these noodles to be thick so as to retain a flavorful toothsome nature.

If you aren’t able to find hazelnuts, walnuts are a lovely substitute. I like to serve this pasta alongside a crispy, thinly sliced fennel and orange salad. Simply dressed with a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

As always, this recipe is simple in nature so use the best quality ingredients you can find. this is especially true for the chocolate. If you are going to splash out on one ingredient, make it the chocolate. I prefer to use a chocolate that is at least 75% cacao – the El Carmen from Goodnow Farms is my favorite.Chocolate Pasta with a Brown Butter Hazelnut Sauce

serves 2, with leftovers

  • 175g/ 2 cups 00 flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 73g/ 1/4 cup 77% chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Brown Butter Sauce

  • 65g / 3/4C toasted hazelnuts
  • 64g/ 4Tbsp butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

To make the pasta

  1. Add the chocolate to a heat proof bowl and place it over a pot of rapidly simmering water, ensuring at least 1″ between the bottom of the bowl and the water. Stir until all of the chocolate is just melted. Remove from heat and let stand just long enough to cool a little so you don’t cook the eggs (about 2-3 minutes)
  2. mound flower onto a clean work surface (or use a large mixing bowl) making a little well in the middle. Then add the two lightly beaten eggs and salt to the well. Using a fork slowly whisk the flour into the egg mixture, working from the middle out, forming a paste, untilnearly all the flour is combined.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and continue to mix in the rest of the flour – you may want to use your hands to incorporate it all toward the end
  4. The dough may be a little dry at this point, but don’t add any more moisture. Knead it for about 10 minutes until it smooth. Then wrap it in wax paper and the dough rest about 20 minutes. If its still a little dry, try adding just a tiny drizzle of water and knead in. If its too sticky add just a tiny dusting more pasta flour and knead in.
  5. divide the rested dough into two even discs. Re-wrap one of the discs and begin to flatten into a rectangular shape, readying it to pass through the pasta machine. You can use arolling-pin to help. If using a rolling-pin for the entire process, continue to roll the dough out into a rectangular shape until it is about 1/4″ thick. Then cut with a sharp knife into fettuccine shaped noodles. Dust with a tiny bit of pasta flour to keep the noodles from sticking
  6. If using a pasta machine, begin on the largest opening (opening 6) and pass the dough through 2-3 times, forming it into a rectangle shaped sheet and cutting away any ragged edges as you work. Then pass the dough through twice on the next largest opening (opening 5) before using the noodle setting to cut the noodles. Dust noodles with a tiny bit of pasta flour to keep from sticking
  7. Repeat with the second disc of dough.
  8. Let noodles stand about 10 minutes before adding to a pot of boiling salted water
  9. Cook until pasta floats. 2-3 minutes or until desired doneness. Reserve a 1/2C of cookingliquid then drain.
  10. Cover with sauce, toss and serve immediately. Add as little of the cooking liquid if the pasta soaks up too much of the sauce or looks a little dry. It may not be necessary though

for the sauce

  1. In a light colored pan (so you can see when its browned) melt butter and smashed garlic together over medium-low heat. stirring frequently
  2. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until butter is a light golden brown, stirring frequently and skimming foam as necessary.
  3. Remove from heat and add roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts
  4. Drizzle over gently drained pasta, toss and serve immediately

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