When Hotel Chocolat offered to send me some of their cocoa pasta I was intrigued; I had no idea whether it would be sweet or savoury and what you would even do with pasta that tastes like chocolate. Luckily they had two recipes on their website so I decided to make both and write about my experience here.
They also sent me some of their cocoa pesto, which is part of Hotel Chocolat's new Cocoa Cuisine range - other items in the range include cocoa mayo, white chocolate horseradish, and cocoa and chilli oil. The pasta costs £5 for 250g and the Cocoa Pesto, which costs £8 for a 190g jar, contains rough-chopped basil, crunchy pine nuts, Italian cheese and nutty roast cocoa nibs.
There are two recipe suggestions for the Cocoa Pasta on the website, firstly Chocolate Pasta with Pesto, Ricotta and Broccoli, and secondly a Nigella Lawson recipe, Chocolate Pasta with Caramel and Pecans. I decided to make them both, on different days.
Chocolate Pasta with Pesto, Ricotta and Broccoli
175g Hotel Chocolat Chocolate Pasta
100g Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Pesto
100g ricotta cheese
25g grated parmesan cheese
75g broccoli florets
salt and pepper
Bring the pasta to the boil in a saucepan and cook until al dente. Drain but reserve a little of the cooking water. Meanwhile cook the broccoli - you could do this at the same time in the same pan as the pasta.
Here's the Cocoa Pesto, it looks very interesting!
Return the pasta to the pan and stir in the pesto, ricotta and half the parmesan and season. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking water to loosen the sauce.
Return the pan to the heat and add the broccoli; toss until combined and heated through. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan.
I actually used thinly sliced parmesan (using the wide blade on my cheesegrater) to put on top. This was an interesting dish with a slightly bitter flavour - I'm not sure if that comes from the pesto or the pasta. To be honest it wasn't entirely to my taste but it wasn't bad and was certainly different - I think it would be fun to serve at a dinner party and see people's reactions to the idea of chocolate pasta!
The other recipe was a dessert recipe and as I have a sweet tooth I had high hopes for this one.
Chocolate Pasta with Caramel and Pecans
75g Hotel Chocolat cocoa pasta
pinch of salt
25g pecans, chopped
25g butter, softened
25g brown sugar
50ml double cream
Cook the pasta with a pinch of salt until al dente. Drain but reserve some of the cooking liquid.
Dry fry the pecans over a medium heat then transfer to a bowl.
Add the butter and sugar to the frying pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Pour in the cream, add the pecans and pinch of salt and remove from the heat.
Toss the drained pasta with the caramel sauce with a spoonful or two of the cooking sauce if needed.
I really enjoyed this dish, I imagine largely thanks to the caramel sauce, and it didn't seem strange at all eating pasta as a dessert. I guess if you can have bread pudding and rice pudding there's no reason you can't eat pasta as a pudding!
Overall I found the chocolate pasta very interesting and more versatile than I imagined; I wasn't so keen on the pesto and probably wouldn't buy that again and the pasta is a little expensive to buy every week but I would try this again. If you haven't already checked out Hotel Choocolat's Cocoa Cuisine range then I urge you to have a look at some of their more unusual ingredients!