Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Banoffee chocolate pasta

Banoffee chocolate pasta

If you're anything like me and Dr D, your larder, kitchen cupboards and fridge will be full of ingredients that you bought eons ago and have never gotten around to using. Currently we have, amongst other things: sour cherries; grape jam; black and green olive savoury marmalade (your guess is as good as mine); spiced balsamic onion chutney; and chocolate coconut hazelnut butter. All unopened. Until not long ago, chocolate pasta could have been added to this list.

Banoffee chocolate pasta

Yes, that's right, I said chocolate pasta.

Banoffee chocolate pasta

I bought said pasta just over two years ago during honeymoon part I to Italy, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it (a bit like many other women are with Manolo Blahniks, one imagines). Trouble is, I didn't have a clue what I had to have it for, simply that it must be mine (again, the Blahniks spring to mind...) Months passed by, then years and my poor packet of chocolate pasta remained on the shelf, untouched and probably feeling somewhat unloved (because we all know pasta has feelings).

Banoffee chocolate pasta

Finally, I decided enough was enough... or rather, the impending best before date decided for me. So out came my packet of beautifully brown corkscrew-shaped fusilli.

After a fair bit of research, I realised there weren't many suggestions out there for what to do with chocolate pasta - possibly why I'd ignored my own packet of it for so long! That was until Nigella came to the rescue. Naturally.

Banoffee chocolate pasta

On her website, the eternally beautiful cook (have I mentioned before that she's everything I wish to be and more?!) throws some penne chocolate pasta together with a caramel and pecan sauce. I could see that this would work but I didn't want the texture of crunchy pecans with soft pasta and preferred the idea of an unctuous banoffee chocolate caramel sauce coating my chocolate pasta twirls. I also added the zest and juice of a lime as I felt this complemented the banoffee chocolate well, but you can leave it out if you prefer. Nigella serves hers warm with cream on the side, but I made mine as a chilled dish, with whipped double cream on top. Opt for whichever of these two you like - warm or cold. Either way it's as comforting as you can get on a cold autumnal day!

Banoffee chocolate pasta

P.S. Chocolate pasta isn't easy to come by, so if ever you needed an excuse to go to Italy, I think you now have one. You're welcome.

Adapted from Nigella's Chocolate pasta with caramel and pecans
Serves 8-10
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g soft dark brown sugar
  • 200ml + 400ml double cream
  • Pinch of Maldon salt
  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), broken up into smallish pieces
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime (optional)
  • 250g chocolate pasta
  • Pinch of table salt
  • Cocoa powder for dusting
Place the butter and sugar together in a large non-stick frying pan and heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon every now and then. As the two start to break down, turn the heat up to medium. The butter will start to foam and the foam will turn from white to brown. Continue to stir, bringing the mixture to a simmer.

After a couple of minutes of simmering, the butter and sugar mix should have thickened and turned into a treacle-like syrup. At this point, pour in the 200ml of the cream, setting aside the other 400ml for later.  Be careful as it may bubble up or spit. Add a pinch of Maldon salt and continue to stir, bringing the caramel mixture back to a simmer and allowing it to bubble away gently for a couple of minutes, before turning off the heat.

Now tip the dark chocolate into the caramel and stir, allowing the chocolate to melt in the heat.

Once the chocolate has fully melted, add the banana slices, lime zest and juice and gently stir once more so that the chopped banana is fully enrobed in a glossy coat of shiny, chocolaty caramel and the lime juice is thoroughly mixed into the chocolate caramel.

Put water on to boil for the pasta. When it’s boiling, add a pinch of table salt and cook the pasta. Mine didn't have instructions on the packet for how long to cook it, so I went with 2-3 minutes, which left it firmly al dente. You could cook for a minute longer if you prefer softer pasta, but it will soften more with time anyway so beware of it turning to mush.

Once cooked, immediately drain the pasta, then tip it into the frying pan of banoffee chocolate sauce and give everything a good stir before transferring it into your serving dish and allowing it to cool fully. 

Whip the 400ml double cream to soft peaks, before spreading over the top of the cooled pasta. To finish, cover the cream with a light dusting of cocoa powder.

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