OK, first things first – I know, you might already think this is a bit odd from the title, but believe me this is one incredibly tasty dish so do bear with me. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you have probably heard me mention my son’s extreme love of gnocchi which, thankfully, is one we enjoy too. There’s something about enjoying those soft pillowy lumps that’s so comforting. Now I know there would be no need to persuade him to eat something that was both gnocchi AND dessert. Not to mention the fact there’s a bit of chocolate in there, but that wasn’t what led me to this. The idea for this dish comes from a whole different direction: poutine. Yes, you read that right, the French-Canadian fries with gravy and cheese curds thing. Somehow I got from poutine to dessert gnocchi. Let me explain…
You may have seen me mention before, or you may have come across it elsewhere, that January is National Sunday Supper Month and there are lots of things going on to celebrate – in fact today is Sunday Supper Day. Another part of the celebration is a competition in collaboration with Idaho® potatoes, one of Sunday Supper’s partners. The challenge was to create a poutine-inspired dish which sounded like too much fun to pass up.
You see, last year I didn’t manage to attend the Food and Wine Conference but apparently they had a poutine bar which everyone raved about and I believe that’s what sparked this competition. Winners will be announced at this year’s event, which I’m sure will be just as good as last year’s looked. I have yet to hear a bad word about the event, between the great food and sessions, so if you’re interested in food, wine and particularly if you blog about either, then do take a look.
Why, I’ll never know, but I decided to challenge myself to creating a dessert ‘poutine’. After a couple other ideas, I fell on our beloved gnocchi to become the star. I wanted to make a dish that looked fairly like ‘real’ poutine but with dessert flavors. This led me to thinking about a dark fruit sauce as ‘gravy’ then I had the idea to dip blueberries in white chocolate as the ‘curds’. With Florida Strawberries also being a Sunday Supper partner, it seemed only right to make a strawberry sauce and so with a few more tweaks, this dessert gnocchi dish was born.
The flavors of this dessert gnocchi
I can understand you may still be skeptical and thinking it’s all well and good to put things together to look the part, but what about when you eat it? I admit even I was pleasantly surprised with how well this dessert gnocchi turned out. Of course I picked things I thought would go well, but they all worked even better than I expected. I purposely didn’t actually sweeten the gnocchi since the sauce was going to be sweet, and they paired perfectly. The mascarpone, egg yolk and hint of lemon zest in the gnocchi make them smooth and rich but also perfect for taking on the sauce’s flavor.
The sauce is wonderfully aromatic from the strawberries, as you’d expect. There’s also a slight edge from the balsamic vinegar which intensifies the flavor somehow. While the white chocolate-coated blueberries were in there more as a bit of fun, they really add to the dish as the white chocolate gently melts into the sauce with a luscious creaminess. Then the blueberries give a lovely fresh burst that contrasts nicely with the rich softness of everything else. Have I convinced you yet? Well, just give it a try, as it’s also not that hard to make and is so delicious.
How it’s made
For the sauce, you simply warm some pureed strawberries with a little balsamic vinegar and some sugar. Allow it to cook a little to thicken slightly and bring out the flavor. Drop the blueberries into some melted white chocolate and roll to coat them. Scoop them out and set aside to dry/harden. Making gnocchi is a lot easier than you might think and this is a relatively ‘dry’ dough that’s pretty easy to work with. You simply cook the potatoes, mash them, then once cool add the other ingredients to form a dough. Roll little logs and cut in chunks. Drop them in to boiling water a few at a time and when they float to the top, they are done. Scoop them out, pop in a bowl, pour over the sauce and dot some blueberries on top. Then dive in and be in awe of the deliciousness you are eating.
Dessert gnocchi might not be the first thing you think of for dessert, nor the first thing you might think to be inspired by poutine. But believe me it really works and is such a delicious dish. Will it win me the competition? Who knows, but I certainly enjoyed making and eating it, and I am pretty sure you will too.
Dessert gnocchi with balsamic strawberry sauce
- 1 oz white chocolate 30g, approx
- 14 blueberries approx
For the sauce
- 1 cup strawberries 160g, washed and hulled
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar or a little more, to taste
For the gnocchi
- 8 oz potatoes 225g, peeled weight (approx 9oz with skins)
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour 70g plain flour
- 3 tbsp mascarpone 50g
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 lemon zest a few fine gratings, from approx 1/4 lemon
- First cook the potatoes for the gnocchi. Cut the peeled potatoes into chunks and place in a pan with plenty water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low boil. Cook for around 7-10min until the potatoes are tender to a knifepoint. Drain, mash (or put through a ricer) and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate. One way is by cutting into chunks, putting in a microwavable bowl and cooking in the microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time, then stirring, until it has melted, around 1min. Alternatively, put a bowl with the chocolate over a bowl with boiling water in it so the hot water comes up the side but not into the chocolate bowl.
- Once the chocolate has melted, put a few blueberries in at a time and roll them in the chocolate with a small spoon so all sides are lightly covered. Scoop them out with the spoon, letting excess chocolate drip off. Try to just scoop the blueberry rather than a spoonful of chocolate. Place them to dry/harden on a cookie sheet or parchment paper. Repeat with all of your blueberries. Once they have hardened a bit, you can smooth off any drips so they are fairly uniform.
For the sauce
- For the strawberry sauce, halve the strawberries then pulse them in a food processor or blender until pureed.
- Place the strawberries in a small pan with the balsamic vinegar and heat over a medium heat, stirring now and then, until it comes through the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook around 7-10 minutes. After a few minutes, carefully (so you don't burn your tongue!) test the mixture and add the sugar to taste, stirring in so it dissolves. The exact amount depends on how sweet the strawberries are. Remove from heat and set aside once it has cooked long enough to thicken up slightly.
- While the strawberries are cooking, make up the gnocchi by adding the flour, mascarpone, egg yolk and lemon zest to the cooled mashed potatoes and mixing until well combined. You might need to finish it off by hand.
For the gnocchi
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and break off chunks at a time and roll the mixture into logs. Cut chunks from the log that are small bite-sized pieces and set aside on a floured surface. Repeat with all of the mixture.
- Bring a shallow pan of water to a boil over a relatively high heat then cook the gnocchi in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan. Make sure the water stays boiling as you cook. The gnocchi will float to the surface once they are ready. If they don't do this after a minute or two, nudge them with a spoon as they may have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the cooked gnocchi from the pan with a slotted spoon and serve with the balsamic strawberry sauce poured over the top and topped with your white chocolate-dipped blueberries and enjoy.