Since Roman times, gnocchi has appeared at the beginning of Italian meals — often in place of soup or more traditional pasta as a first course. The semolina-based mini-dumplings sometimes include potato and are typically adorned with tomato-based sauces.
But what about eating gnocchi at the END of a meal — as dessert?
Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen execute that idea deliciously with caramelized cinnamon in their soon-to-be released The Fire Island Cookbook
Cinnamon Caramelized Gnocchi
DeSimone family lore has it that Mike’s great-grandmother, Vita Gennaro DeSimone, served this (or a version of it) at Christmas dinner during The Great Depression. Some accounts of the story have her using ravioli or tortellini, but ricotta was probably a bit of a stretch in a year that almost didn’t have dessert.
2 packages (1 pound each) fresh potato or semolina gnocchi
½ pound (2 sticks) butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 ounces white chocolate, coarsely grated
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, fill ½ to 2/3 with water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the gnocchi and cook according to the package’s directions. Gnocchi float when they are cooked through; with a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi and place on a plate.
Meanwhile, in a high-sided skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add sugars, stirring constantly. When the sugars have melted, stir in the cinnamon. Next, add the gnocchi, stirring with a wooden spoon until well coated with the caramelized butter and sugar mix.
To serve, divide the hot gnocchi among 8 soup or pasta bowls, and top each with a small amount of white chocolate. Serves 8.
Wine Recommendation: Rosa Regale Sparkling Dolce Rosso, Acqui, Italy
Made from 100% Brachetto grapes, this sweet sparkling red tastes of berries tossed with rose petals and almond flowers.
From the forthcoming book The Fire Island Cookbook by Jeff Jenssen and Mike DeSimone. To be published by Emily Bestler Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2012 by The World Wine Guys, LLC. Printed by permission.