I think we first saw this cool pasta shape in the book Flour + Water: Pasta, by Thomas McNaughton; we’re not positive, but pretty sure, as it shows a huge number of pasta shapes and how to make them. Of course, once you see these, you’ve pretty much figured out how to shape caramelle. Oh, and, of course, caramelle means candies in Italian.
This is more about technique than a recipe, but we will tell you that we made a double batch of our basic pasta dough and used the simple cheese filling from yesterday. From that, we made about 100 caramelle. If you’re up for it, let’s scratch out some pasta! We’ll assume that you have your pasta dough ready to roll, and, ideally, you have a pasta machine at the ready. We think an Italian Nonna could make these completely by hand using a rolling pin, but we think we’d have trouble.
Roll dough. Take a chunk of pasta dough (keep the remaining dough in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out), run it through on the widest setting, then fold in thirds, and run it through again. Repeat this several times to help knead the dough and make it smooth and supple. After kneading, start reducing the thickness by progressively adjusting the gap between the rollers. Roll out sheets of pasta dough as thin as possible. For us, this is the second-to-last setting on our pasta machine.
Cut squares. Place the sheets of pasta dough on a cutting board and cut into 3-inch squares. To make them extra fancy, we cut two edges with ruffles and two straight. All the scraps can be placed under the plastic wrap and worked into the next chunk of dough to be re-rolled.
Pipe. Either pipe (really recommended, as it’s so easy) or spoon about 3/4 of a teaspoon of filling into the center of each square.
Fold, wet, and fold. Fold one of the smooth edges over the filling. Then moisten your finger in a small bowl of water and run along the other smooth edge to dampen and help seal the pasta. Fold the dampened side over the filling side and press down lightly.
Twist. Pick up your caramelle and give the ruffled edges a small twist, just as if you were wrapping a piece of candy.
Freeze. Place each piece of pasta on a baking sheet — we use silicone liners to keep the pasta from sticking — and, when your baking sheet is full, place it in the freezer for 45 minutes. Once frozen, pop the candies loose and place in a plastic bag in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
Boil. You can boil these right from the bag. Just use a lot of salted water, and remember that fresh pasta will cook rapidly, so check for doneness early and often.
These do seem like a bit of trouble, but they look so cool, they’re worth making from time to time. For one person, it took a bit over an hour-and-a-half to make 100 caramelle pasta. And, this was our first time making them. We think that, with a bit more practice, we’d get a whole batch down to around an hour. Not super fast, but fast enough to make it worth it. After all, 100 caramelle is about 6-8 servings. Five stars because they look great!