Cjalsòns di Piedim






































Recipe of the Month

Cjalsòns di Piedim
(Pasta Filled with Chocolate and Nuts)

Although cjalsòns are typically served as a first course, some restaurants will include sweet cjalsòns on their “dolci” menu. This rich, chocolatey version, from the village of Piedim near Paularo, would definitely qualify as a dessert!

Often in Friuli the sweet cjalsòns are prepared with a potato-based dough similar to gnocchi. However, I find that the doughiness can overpower the complex flavors in the filling. I much prefer using traditional pasta dough. Its delicate texture brings out all the delicious nuances that make cjalsòns so ethereal. While "tipo 00" flour is the standard for making pasta throughout much of Italy, it's not as easy to find in the U.S., and I've had excellent success using semolina flour instead.

Pasta Dough:
1 cup semolina flour
1/4 cup boiling water, plus extra as needed
1 tablespoon olive oil
• • •
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 cup finely crushed biscotti
1/3 cup finely chopped unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup diced candied lemon peel
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, grated
2 tablespoons grappa or rum
1 tablespoon plum or mixed berry jam
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
• • •
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup grated ricotta affumicata

For the Dough:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, boiling water, and olive oil. Transfer the dough to a clean surface; knead until the flour is fully incorporated and the mixture becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (If the dough is too dry or crumbly, lightly moisten your fingers with water during kneading until you reach the desired texture.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

For the Filling:
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, crushed biscotti, peanuts, walnuts, candied lemon peel, chocolate, grappa, plum jam, honey, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and lemon peel. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until ready to use.

To Prepare
Working in batches, feed the dough through the rollers of a pasta machine until very thin (setting #7 on most machines). Cut out 3-inch circles from the dough. Place 1 heaping teaspoon filling on each circle. Moisten the edges with water and fold in half to make a semi-circle, sealing the edges tightly.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches, place the cjalsòns in the water; cook until they rise to the surface, about 1–2 minutes. Drain.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; remove from heat. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon; add the cjalsòns and toss to coat with butter. Serve topped with grated ricotta affumicata.

Serves 4.