Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Cuisine - Cocoa Pasta

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We love chocolate, and I love artisan/ gourmet chocolate most. Having been introduced to Hotel Chocolat's Cocoa Cuisine, which is a range of chocolate products used in cooking, I decided that I have to give their Cocoa Pasta a try. Yup, you heard me right, Cocoa Pasta. Not pasta shaped chocolate, even though they do look like it!

chocolate pasta, cocoa pasta, pasta dessert recipe

Can you understand why hubby, Abby and Clay all tried to take the packet of pasta away from my desk and open it? The thing is, when I did open the packet, it even smell like chocolate, thanks to the 9% of cocoa powder kneaded into the dough to make these penne pasta tubes!

I must admit though, I have been considering for a very long time what to do with the pasta. It's not just any unfamiliar ingredient that you've never tried before, but it's an ingredient that has crossed the line of sweet and savoury and making it all confusing. Ideally the flavours of the dish works in harmony, and does not completely cover up the pasta's chocolatey flavour.

To help my confused mind, I boiled a few pasta tubes to see what they are like after being cooked. They smell of hot chocolate when boiled, but it was reassuring that, although the unsweetened chocolate flavour is there, it is mild enough to work with. Abby actually loves eating them plain even though they aren't sweetened!

Instead of being inventive, I decided to stick to 2 recipes that is already made, and make some adjustments according to what ingredients I have:

chocolate pasta, cocoa pasta, pasta dessert recipe

As I didn't have any basil, I added a sprinkle of dried parsley instead. I also replaced the smoked salmon with ham and the Parmesan cheese with oak smoked cheddar cheese (it seems like I've changed most of the ingredients!), which was the mistake I made for the dish. It was actually delicious apart from the bitterness coming through from the strong smokey cheese. To counter this, I added a bit of honey to it and it was quite alright. The sweet and savoury flavours mixing in the same dish sounds confusing but the sweetness from the honey actually enhanced the savoury dish. The hint of chocolate from the pasta was still there but it went well with the other flavours.

chocolate pasta, cocoa pasta, pasta dessert recipe

Although the savoury version was quite alight, we all prefer the sweet version using Nigella Lawson's recipe! The toasted pecan nuts and the slightly bittersweet butterscotch sauce enhanced the cocoa pasta really well. The flavours matched really well, and the pasta's texture was perfect, making it a satisfying dessert to eat. Interestingly, it's the slight saltiness from the butter that enhanced the sweet dish, so perhaps the cocoa pasta works best with sweet and salty flavours together, like salted caramel. The cream served with the dish lightened up the strong flavours and brought everything together. We all really liked it, especially hubby! I'm going to serve the rest warm on a plate with vanilla ice-cream on the side next. Mmmmmm!!!

It is nice to sometimes try something different, and to expand the list of ingredients you can work with. Cocoa pasta is certainly fun to play with, and it has the additional wow factor as well as you can be sure that your guest has mostly likely never tried it before! It cost £5 for 250g of pasta, and half a packet should easily serve 3-4 person the above dessert. 

Disclosure: We were sent a packet of pasta to try and review; all opinions are honest and our own