Mexican Chocolate Filled Vanilla Bean Mesquite Ravioli With Caramel Sauce
I recently taught a gluten-free pasta-making class , in which one of the attendees recounted her growing up years, when she and her siblings gathered fallen mesquite pods from the ground to be given to a Hill Country rancher who used them to feed his livestock. For most of its existence in Texas, however, the tenacious mesquite tree has been the bane of Texas ranchers and farmers. The mesquite tree spreads like a weed, absorbs much of the water from the ground in which it grows, and causes other vegetation to die. Long before this hearty tree gained its bad reputation, the mesquite tree was valued as a important food source among ancient peoples in South America, Mexico, and the Southwestern region of the United States. As I explained in past post about mesquite flour, these people used the dried, ground mesquite pods and beans for drinks, as well as for breads, tortillas, and porridge.
The reputation of the oft-maligned mesquite tree has been redeemed in recent years, as the flour made from its dried pods is again recognized for its nutritional value. Mesquite flour, in fact, is now considered a super food. Additionally, mesquite flour, as well as mesquite molasses, has gained popularity among homebrewers as an ingredient in beer. In a continuing effort to at least reduce (though not completely remove) carbs from our diet, I use mesquite in many of my grain-free, gluten-free recipes. Because it is naturally sweet and fermentable, it makes a great food for feeding my gluten-free sourdough starter; my starter starts quickly and joyfully bubbling away when I add mesquite flour to it (the cinnamon-colored flour does, however, make the starter a bit of a funky hue).
I even use it in combination with other gluten-free, grain-free flours to make pasta. It makes a lovely gluten-free, grain-free savory pasta (paired with a red wine reduction shallot mushroom sauce), and and a richly flavorful grain-free, gluten-free dessert ravioli. Either way, savory or sweet, mesquite flour adds something a little special, and maybe a little exotic, to any dish in which is appears as an ingredient.
Below is the recipe for my dessert ravioli. Apparently I am missing some of the photographs I took the last time I made this pasta dessert, so I don’t have images that show every step of the ravioli making process. I’ll make the dessert again soon, and take more photos to fill in the gaps. In the meantime, if you want to make this recipe and have questions about any part of the process, please feel free to ask your question in the comment box, or email your question to me at email@example.com. I promise to respond quickly!
Mexican Chocolate Filled Vanilla Bean Mesquite Ravioli With Caramel Sauce
Mexican Chocolate Filling
8 oz Cream cheese (Challenge, 365 brand), softened at room temperature
6 oz Guittard 63% dark chocolate chips
1 tsp (or more, to taste) Ceylon cinnamon
Cayenne pepper to taste
Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Zap the chips in 20 second increments, stirring well after each 20 seconds, until the chips are nearly melted. When most, but not all, of the chips are melted, stir the chocolate vigorously to let the heat from the melted chips melt the rest. Pour the melted chocolate over the remaining ingredients in a food processor; blend until smooth. Set aside to cool completely.
Classic Caramel Sauce
¾ cup Heavy whipping cream
½ cup Sugar (organic dehydrated sugar cane)
2 tbls Water
1 tbls Honey
4 tbls Unsalted butter
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
El Rey ICOA white chocolate (or other quality true white chocolate, for drizzling on finished ravioli)
Bring heavy cream to boil over medium heat. Set aside. In a 3 qt saucepan, bring the sugar, water, and honey to a boil over high heat. At least twice during the cooking process, brush the inside of the pot with a damp pastry brush to prevent the sugar from crystalizing. Continue to cook the sugar mixture over high heat, until amber-colored: about 6 – 8 minutes. Lower the temperature to medium and very slowly add the hot cream to the mixture. The mixture will bubble up and foam, so be sure to use at least a 3 qt pot for this recipe. Continue to stir the mixture until it is completely smooth. Remove from heat; add the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer the caramel sauce to a jar. Cool slightly and serve warm. Sauce can be refrigerated and reheated.
Mesquite Ravioli Dough
60 g Mesquite flour
110 g Cassava flour
30 g tapioca flour
3 tbls Powdered Sugar
½ tsp gound vanilla bean
2 – 3 eggs (room temperature)
Egg yolk, as needed
Extra cassava or tapioca flour for dusting
In a food processor, mix together the gluten-free flours. Add the first two eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. If the dough begins to form a solid ball after the addition of the second egg, add only an egg yolk, if necessary, to make the dough the right consistency (it should be a little on the sticky side). Remove the pasta dough from the food processor, form into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and let rest for thirty minutes (the dough can be refrigerated for several hours or over-night).
Cut the room-temperature disk of dough into fourths. Working with ¼ of the dough at a time, cover the other ¾ with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Flatten the quarter of dough, and dust on both sides with tapioca or cassava flour. With the pasta machine dial set on zero, pass the dough through the sheet attachment. It will be raggedy. Fold the sheet in thirds, like an envelope, and pass it through the sheet attachment again. You will repeat this step several times, until the dough is an even rectangle and has smooth edges.
Turn the dial to 1 and pass the pasta sheet through once or twice.Repeat this step with the dial set on 2, then 3, then 4. You might be able to pass the dough through on the 5 setting, but usually gluten-free dough does best no thinner than the four setting.
Place the long sheet of pasta on a floured piece of parchment, or a silicon rolling mat. Mark the half-way spot on the pasta sheet. Place about ½ tbls of Mexican chocolate filling evenly, in double rows, on the bottom half of the pasta sheet.Be sure to leave space for cutting and sealing the ravioli pieces.
Wet your finger tip with water, and draw wet square around each of the fillings. Fold the top layer of pasta dough carefully over the bottom half. Using your fingers, carefully press the air out of the dough while simultaneously pressing to seal the top layer of dough around the fillings on the bottom layer of dough. Use a dough cutter to cut the ravioli into squares, or use a cookie (or ravioli) cutter to cut the ravioli into desired shapes.
Place the cut ravioli on a parchment-lined or cassava-floured baking sheet to dry. Repeat with the remaining pasta dough and Mexican chocolate filling. Refrigerate or freeze the ravioli at least two hours before cooking. Cook ravioli in boiling water 5 – 6 minutes, or a little longer if the ravioli was frozen.
Place five or six pieces of ravioli on a dessert plate. Drizzle with home-made caramel sauce and melted El Rey white chocolate. Add a dollop of whipped cream in the middle of the ravioli, and garnish with a rose-cut, or heart-shaped cut strawberry.