Award-winning dessert lasagna by Chef Michael Stambaugh. Photo and recipe courtesy of the National Pasta Association.
Updated June 2010
Dessert Pasta Recipes
Pasta For Dessert? Chocolate Pasta? Of Course—Just Hold The Parmesan!
If you love pasta, and you love dessert, what could be better than combining the two? If “dessert pasta” sounds like a strange concept, remember that sweet noodle puddings combining flat noodles, sweetened cottage cheese, raisins and cinnamon have been a mainstay in Eastern European cooking since the 17th century, when sugar became available—to the affluent. Thankfully, sugar is affordable to all today, so enjoy these recipes for:
This fruit lasagna recipe won third prize in a contest held by the National Pasta Association and the Culinary Institute of America.
After you master this recipe, you may develop your own ideas for variations on the theme of dessert lasagna.
- 12 pieces lasagne
- 4 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 8 kiwis, peeled
- 4 cups strawberries, washed and
trimmed, 8 reserved for garnishing
- 4 cups blackberries, washed
- 1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds
- Mint sprigs to garnish
Michael Stambaugh of the El Conquistador
Resort in San Juan, PR created the Third
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, substituting 2 tablespoons of sugar for the salt. Rinse, drain and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese and ½ cup sugar. Set aside.
- In the food processor, purée 4 kiwis with 2 tablespoons sugar. Transfer the purée to a bowl and set it aside. Rinse the processor bowl.
- In the processor, purée half the strawberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. Strain the purée into a bowl and set it aside. Rinse the processor bowl.
- In the processor, purée half the blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. Strain the purée and set it aside.
- Slice the kiwis into ¼-inch thick rounds. Slice the strawberries into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Slice the blackberries in half.
- Reserve 1/4 cup of each of the purées to use as a garnish when serving.
To Assemble The Lasagne
- Cover the bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch glass baking pan with 3 pieces of pasta. Spoon 1/3 of the ricotta on top and spread it evenly.
- Pour the kiwi purée over the cheese and arrange the kiwi slices on the purée. Lay on 3 more pieces of pasta and cover with 1/2 the remaining cheese.
- Pour the strawberry purée over the cheese and sprinkle with sliced strawberries. Lay on 3 more pieces of pasta and cover with the remaining cheese. Pour the blackberries purée over the cheese and sprinkle with blackberries. Top with a final layer of pasta. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the lasagne with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and with the toasted almonds. Cut into 8 rectangles and use a spatula to set the pieces on dessert plates.
- Decorate the plates with dots of reserved purées. Garnish each piece of lasagne with a strawberry and a sprig of mint.
Recipe courtesy of the National Pasta Association, www.ilovepasta.org
Chocolate Fettuccini Mont Blanc
The dessert is named after the highest mountain in the Alps (and all of Western Europe). It lies between the regions of Haute-Savoie, France and Aosta Valley, Italy (where it is called Monte Bianco). The classic recipe tops chestnut purée with whipped cream. Here, we add a nest of fettuccine as well. Serves 8-10.
For The “Mountain”
- 3 pounds fresh chestnuts or one can
(1 pound 15 ounces) chestnut purée
- 1 vanilla bean (if using fresh
chestnuts—can be re-used)
- 3 cups milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
For The Syrup
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons water
Use fettuccine or linguine for birds' nests. Look for chocolate fettuccine—or make your own. Photo courtesy AlfonsoGourmetPasta.com.
For The “Snow Peaks”
- 1½ cups whipping cream, chilled
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 egg white at room temperature
- 2 squares semisweet chocolate, grated
- Fettuccini or linguini, chocolate or regular
This is what a traditional Mont Blanc looks like: chestnut puree over whipped cream. In our recipe, we use fettuccine as an added base. Photo courtesy France24h.free.fr .
- To prepare the chestnuts, cut an X on the top of each and set them in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, boil for 1 minute and remove from the flame. Drain the chestnuts, pour over cold water to cover, and before the chestnuts become cool, peel off and discard the outer and inner skins.
- In the top of a double boiler scald the milk together with ¼ cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean. Add the peeled chestnuts and cook over boiling water until the chestnuts are very tender (about 30 minutes). Drain the chestnuts and purée them in a food processor or food mill.
- Boil the water and sugar stirring regularly until it forms a thin sugar syrup (this will happen rather quickly). Set aside to cool. When cool, beat enough syrup into the chestnut purée to make it thin enough to pipe through a pastry bag (but still thick enough to hold its shape). If you are using canned chestnut purée and it is thin enough to be piped, you can sweeten with sugar; or else use the sugar syrup.
- Fit a pastry bag with 1/8-inch plain tube and fill with purée.
- Make whipped cream topping: in a dry, chilled bowl, beat the cream until stiff, then add sugar to taste and vanilla. Beat egg white in separate bowl until stiff peaks form, then fold into cream. Place cream mixture into pastry bag fitted with star tip.
- Cook fettuccine according to package instructions, substituting 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the salt. Drain and cool.
- To serve: Arrange fettuccine or linguini in nests and pipe chestnut purée in the center to create a small mountain. Pipe the whipped cream mixture in center, piling it high. Sprinkle grated chocolate over whipped cream and chill until serving time.
Chocolate Dessert Pasta (Fettuccini With Chocolate Sauce)
From the Pasta and Noodles cookbook by Merry White:
- 8 ounces regular or chocolate fettuccine
- 2 cups skim milk, divided
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Cook and drain pasta.
- In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup milk and cornstarch
mixing until smooth
- Add cocoa, sugar, cinnamon and remaining milk
- Heat just until boiling, stirring constantly
- Cook one minute until sauce is thickened
- Pour sauce over pasta and combine
- Top each serving with your choice of crème fraîche, sour
cream or vanilla yogurt
Fettuccini Alfredo with Crème Anglaise (Light Custard Sauce)
The crème anglaise recipe is from Mastering The Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Serves 4.
- Chocolate or regular fettuccine
- Chocolate for shaving
For the crème anglaise:
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch or potato starch
- 1-3/4 cups boiling milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla—or—for chocolate crème anglaise, 3 ounces of semisweet chocolate melted in the boiling milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract stirred into the finished sauce
- In a 3-quart mixing bowl, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon.
- Beat in the starch.
- While beating the yolk mixture, very gradually pour on the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets, so that the yolks are slowly warmed.
- Pour the mixture into a heavy-bottomed enameled or stainless steal saucepan and set over moderate heat, stirring slowly and continuously with a wooden spatula or spoon. Reach all over the bottom and sides of the pan, until the sauce thickens just enough to coat the spoon with a light, creamy layer.
- Do not let the custard come anywhere near a simmer. It should be a maximum of 170 degrees on a candy thermometer.
- Then beat the sauce off heat for a minute or two to cool it. Strain it through a fine sieve, and beat in the vanilla.
To serve hot: Keep the sauce over warm but not hot water. If you wish, beat in 1 to 2 tablespoon of unsalted butter just before serving.
To serve cold: Set the saucepan in a pan of cold water, and stir frequently until cool. Then cover and chill.
Prepare fettuccine according to package directions, substituting sugar for the salt. Serve hot or allow to cool. Top with sauce and shaved white, milk or dark chocolate.
Chocolate Spaghetti with Whipped Cream, Sliced Strawberries
From Emeril Lagasse, www.emerils.com.
- 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar plus 3 tablespoons
- Pinch salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons walnut oil or vegetable oil
- 1½ cups cold heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Nocello or brandy
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup chocolate nibs or finely chopped semisweet chocolate
- Into a large bowl or on a work surface, sift together the flour, cocoa, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the eggs a bit at a time, working them into the dry ingredients using a circular motion with your hands. Continue working in the eggs, and add the vanilla and oil, until a sticky dough is formed. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic, and is no longer sticky. (Alternatively, place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, add the eggs, vanilla and oil and pulse to form a ball of dough. Turn out onto a work surface and work to a smooth dough.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 4 fist-sized pieces and flatten into disks. One at a time, roll out each dough piece through the widest setting of a pasta machine, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remove, fold into thirds and repeat. Continue rolling through the machine on 4 times, dusting lightly with flour to keep from sticking. Decrease the roller size down 1 notch, and roll through once, passing the dough through each setting twice until the desired thickness is reached and cut into spaghetti strands. Let dry briefly while assembling the “sauce.”
- In a medium bowl, beat the cream with an electric mixer at medium speed until it becomes thick and frothy. Beating, add the 3 tablespoons of sugar and Nocello, and beat until soft peaks form, being careful not to over beat. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until just al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander. Place the drained pasta in a large pasta bowl and toss with the whipped cream, strawberries and nibs. Serve immediately.
In this recipe by Lisa Hutt, spaghetti is served with a sauce made of orange marmalade, orange juice and Port. Serves 4.
- 1 eight-ounce package uncooked spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair pasta
- 5 ounces orange marmalade
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup port wine
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 2 blood oranges, supremed if you can, sectioned if you can’t (or substitute regular oranges)
- 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
- Dried cherries for sprinkling
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, substituting sugar and an optional teaspoon of vanilla for the salt. Drain and let cool. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add orange marmalade, orange juice, and Port; simmer until mixture is reduced in half.
- Toss in the cooked pasta; heat again until the pasta picks up the flavor of the orange mixture.
- Add the blood oranges and heat thoroughly.
- Plate the pasta and sprinkle with the toasted almonds and dried cherries. Serve with a glass of Port.
Here, manicotti tubes create the “cannoli.”
- 1 package manicotti
- 1 pound cream cheese
- 1 pound ricotta
- 6 ounces sugar
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Orange zest
- Chocolate chips
- Candied fruit (optional)
- Chopped green pistachios (optional)
- Cook manicotti according to package directions, substituting 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla for the salt. Set aside to cool.
- Combine cheeses, sugar, spices, chocolate chips, and candied fruit. Pipe into the manicotti tubes.
- Press chopped pistachios into the ends of the tubes.
- Dust tops with confectionary sugar, cocoa powder or dark, milk or white shaved chocolates.
Pumpkin Ravioli With Mascarpone Sauce
Purchase pumpkin ravioli or tortellini at your specialty food store or Italian market and prepare according to package directions. For the mascarpone sauce:
Sweetening with honey also brings some depth. You could substitute maple syrup or plain sugar if you wanted.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- Sugar, honey, or maple syrup to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
- Candied walnuts or pecans (optional)
Honey or maple syrup will provide more depth of flavor than sugar. Maple especially fits a holiday theme. Infused maple syrups like Sweet Autumn, Sweet Chai or Sweet Ginger from Moosewood Hollow add a magical touch.
- Whip the cream and mascarpone together until the mixture starts to firm up.
- Add the sugar or other sweetener and whip to the desired consistency.
- Top the ravioli or tortellini with mascarpone and garnish with a few candied nuts.
Romanian Sweet Pasta
From The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook: Healthy Traditions From Around the World, by Debra Wasserman (The Vegetarian Resource Group, copyright 1994).
- 1 pound eggless pasta
- 12 cups water
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup ground walnuts, or 1/3 cup ground poppy seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind, minced
- 1½ cup raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Cook pasta in boiling water until done. Drain.
- Heat maple syrup and walnuts or poppy seeds in a large pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add lemon rind, raisins, clove powder, and cinnamon. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes.
- Add cooked pasta. Mix well and serve warm.
- You can also pour the mixture into a baking dish and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes before serving. Serves 8.
Sweet Ricotta and Fusilli
Recipe from The New Pasta Cookbook, by Joanne Glynn.
- 1/2 pound fusilli pasta
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- milk, heated
- Lemon rind for garnish
- Cook fusilli until al dente.
- In a bowl, blend ricotta, pinch salt, sugar, vanilla, lemon rind and cinnamon. Add just enough hot milk to make a smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning. Drain fusilli and toss through ricotta sauce.
- Serve immediately, decorated with lemon rind and sprinkled with cinnamon.
Grandma’s Noodle Kugel
Grandma, who never heard of ricotta, used pot cheese or farmer cheese. Today’s cooks, who never heard of pot cheese, will use ricotta. If you don’t have ricotta handy, you can use cottage cheese. If you live in the metropolitan New York area, you have access to farmer cheese, which sounds less glamorous than ricotta but is delicious and authentic—and kugel is comfort food, not glamour food (get the salted variety).
There are many sweet kugel recipes: With raisins, apples and other fruits; with cottage cheese or a cream cheese-cottage cheese mix; with cinnamon or more exotic spices. Most can be made and baked within 90 minutes. This one is “marinated” overnight.
The history of kugel: Kugel originated in Eastern European. According to Wikipedia, the first kugels were made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet. Around 1200 B.C.E. German cooks replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel (noodle pellets), eventually adding eggs, then cottage cheese and milk to create the custard-like noodle pudding we know today. Sugar became available in the 17th century, creating sweet kugels for side dishes and desserts. Polish-Jewish recipes included raisins, cinnamon and sweetened farmer’s cheese; Hungarians sprinkled their kugels with sugar and sour cream. In the late 19th century, in Jerusalem, caramelized sugar and black pepper were added to the “Jerusalem kugel.”
Kugel can be served an entrée, a side dish (popular with brisket) or a dessert. There are savory kugels (potato kugel, with onions and eggs is another main recipe) as well as sweet ones like the recipe below. There are as many variations as there are fruits, vegetables and spices; the common denominator is broad, flat noodles. Most sweet kugels are served cold or at room temperature.
- 1 12-16 ounce package of broad noodles
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1½ cups pot, ricotta, or cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup each dark and golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons each sugar and cinnamon, 1 tablespoon fresh ground nutmeg
- Spread the uncooked noodles evenly across the bottom of a 9" x 13" inch pan. Distribute the raisins evenly among the noodles, taking care not to break them.
- In a 3-quart bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, milk and cheese. Pour over the noodles. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Be sure all the noodles are immersed in the liquid.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the sugar and spices and sprinkle across the top of the kugel. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover, and bake another 40 minutes, until firm in the center, puffed and browned on the top.
Kugel can be served hot or at room temperature. Leftover kugel can be re-heated or eaten cold.