This recipe is part of a cooperative “cook-off” with my darling blogger friend, Heavenly, from donuts to delirium, and Christina, from Buenos Aires to Paris. I’ve been wildly excited about cooking with these two and remain thrilled to have been included. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out their cool blogs soon and often.
I call this custard “heartache” for several reasons. First, it is loaded with cream, butter and eggs, so cardiologists, beware. Next, I had trouble making it, which I’ll elaborate on more below. That caused me days on end of heartache and worry. But the dish turned out so flavorful and downright good, that everyone that’s tasted it has had heartache once they cleaned their plates. “You’re kidding! There’s really no more?” Lastly, today I’m bittersweet. This is the very day that my kitchen is to be demolished in preparation for renovation. That’s wonderful news in the long term but I’ll miss the wretched thing horribly while we suffer the remodel. And I won’t be enjoying more heartache tagliatelle custard anytime soon.
The recipe is a classic: fresh egg tagliatelle. It comes from one of Gino D’Acampo’s cookbooks. HH sent me the directions and urged me to “feel free to add any personal touches/sauces,” with which instruction, obviously, I’ve run wild.
The dish is straightforward and only uses a few ingredients. But it is labor intensive. Gino’s a cute guy, and I’ve no doubt that’s part of his appeal. Nevertheless, the pics accompanying the recipe of him in a T-shirt, flashing his biceps, smiling his stunning smile, as he pulls perfect, very long tagliatelle out of his hand-cranked pasta maker, isn’t just for show. I’ve a hand-cranked pasta machine, too, and I’ll tell you, making this is a real workout! I stripped some outer layers off myself. And I started sweating… heavily. (I couldn’t tell if G was, but suspect not. Some guys have all the luck.)
Gino offers two alternatives besides the original: a red tagliatelle made with the addition of tomato purée, and a green, made with fresh spinach. Initially, I wanted to try something American Southwestern, so made the “red” version with ancho chile purée instead of tomato. It tasted fine but looked a mess—sort of like teenage-me, covered in acne, irritated, with horrible bed-head. It didn’t photograph that well either, as you might imagine.
So back to the drawing board.
The texture of my disaster tagliatelle was rather fluffy, kind of like bread or rice pudding. And that, as they say, was that. Eureka! I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and try a pasta dessert.
I’m not especially creative with these things so feel back on a recipe of Heguiberto’s for bread pudding as my guide. I had to make some small adjustments to accommodate the hot tagliatelle. Otherwise, my dish is essentially the same as Gino’s for the “regular” egg noodles and the same as Hegui’s bread pudding recipe. In the first I traded canola oil for olive, thinking that would work better in dessert. In the second, I melted the butter and tossed it with the noodles and dried fruit instead of spreading it.
I made this twice. The first time, I didn’t cook the fresh pasta thinking that the custard would do that for me, thus eliminating a step. Alas, that proved to be a mistake. The custard was too dense.
heartache tagliatelle custard
300g “00” flour plus more to flour work surface
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp canola oil
3 cups half and half
4 tbsp butter, melted, plus more to grease baking dish
¾ cup raisins and currants
2 eggs and 1 additional egg white
3 cups half and half
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean pod
To prepare tagliatelle:
Prepare Gino D’Acampo’s homemade egg pasta dough. I’ll summarize the directions. Mix flour, salt, and oil in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together three eggs. (Actually Gino recommends the traditional make-a-well-in-a-mound-of-flour-on-your-board method. I simply ignored that since I always make such a huge mess that way.) With a wooden spoon, fold the flour in stages into the egg. Once the dough is wet and somewhat together, pour out onto a floured surface.
Kneed the dough for eight (8) minutes. This is critical. And tiring and is the step at which I broke a sweat.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Once it is rested, press dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness that will fit your pasta machine’s widest setting. Crank the dough through. Dust with a bit more flour to prevent sticking. Adjust the machine setting to the next smaller size and process again. Continue until you’ve run it through all the settings to the most narrow (my machine has nine settings). The dough will grow enormously long and gets stickier as it grows. You’ll have to fold it so be sure to add a bit more four as needed to minimize sticking.
Change to the cutting rollers on your machine. The tagliatelle width is about a half centimeter. Gino sweetly writes that you can hand-cut the pasta if you’re machine doesn’t have the correct size, but I think that is perfectly insane. Use the machine and make due on the size.
Dust cut pasta with a bit of flour to prevent sticking.
At this point, you can cook and eat this in any of the traditional savory ways that you can imagine. March bravely forward for the custard.
To prepare custard:
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Grease a baking dish with butter.
Cut vanilla pod in half and scrape out seeds with a paring knife. Place pod and seeds with one cup of half and half in a small saucepan. Simmer for a few minutes to infuse vanilla flavor into liquid. Remove from heat and add remaining two cups of half and half to cool. Discard vanilla pod and set aside.
Cook pasta in boiling water for two minutes. Drain and toss with melted butter and dried fruit. Place into baking dish.
Beat remaining 2 eggs and egg white with sugar for a few minutes. Add vanilla-infused half and half. Beat for a minute more. Pour over pasta in baking dish. Sprinkle top with coarse sugar.
Bake 35 to 50 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Once firm, broil for a minute or so to brown top. Remove from heat and let cool.
Serve warm, with more half and half or some heavy cream, and/or with dark chocolate ice cream, like we did.