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While it might seem to us like a rather unexpected dish in which to find pasta, sweet pasta desserts have been popular around the world for a very long time. Discover the deliciousness of dessert pasta for yourself with our quick and simple recipe.
Sweet pasta = sacrilege?
If you live in the UK, you’re probably very familiar with pasta. This endlessly versatile staple features in many of our favourite dishes. Spaghetti carbonara, or a rich bolognese; little ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta. Quick-cooking and deeply satisfying, pasta is a common weeknight dinner for most of us.
So, it can be a bit jarring to discover that pasta desserts exist. It’s similar to the moment when you discovered that cooked vegetables make an excellent cake ingredient, or that vermicelli noodles go brilliantly in a milk pudding.
However, when you think about it, there’s really no reason at all why pasta can’t be part of a delectable dessert.
Pasta is made using just a few simple ingredients: flour, and eggs, if you eat them. Or flour, water and oil if you don’t. All of these ingredients are equally at home in sweet and savoury dishes, as - it turns out - is the resulting pasta.
So, load up your spaghetti with sweetness! You’re about to discover a whole new world.
Historical sweet pasta dishes
Sweet pasta recipes have been around for hundreds of years. For some reason, they haven’t caught on to the same extent that the savoury recipes have, but they do have plenty of history.(1)
French writer Pere Labata ate a sweet macaroni dessert in Sicily in the 1700s. It contained almond milk, sugar and cinnamon, as well as dried fruits like currants and pistachios. So far, so good, but we will probably do without the ambergris and salami which were also included.
Moving forward in time, we start to see the appearance of sweet stuffed ravioli. Chestnuts and chocolate are a popular filling, or espresso and crushed nuts.
Another ingenious way of using pasta as a dessert is to fry or bake it. Once crisp, larger pasta shells serve as clever vehicles for cream or other sweet fillings.
Or, you can create an entire dessert out of the pasta alone. In Sicily, it’s common to deep fry twirls of angel hair pasta to create a crisp little cookie, which you can top with honey and pistachios. Divine.
Our sweet pasta recipe
Deep-fried pasta desserts may sound positively delicious, but we wanted to create something a bit lighter for our version.
Recipes abound for pasta cooked in the traditional way - i.e. in boiling water - and served with a sweet sauce. These range from tossing the cooked pasta in caramel or chocolate to serving with a milky, sugary sauce which might have seemed familiar to Pere Labata.
However, we wanted to come up with a recipe which would help ease the uninitiated into the world of sweet pasta. As a result, we decided to keep the recipe fairly simple.
Some of our very favourite savoury pasta dishes consist only of spaghetti or fusilli tossed with a deliciously infused olive oil. Think: chilli, herbs, garlic. So, why not create something similarly light with a sweet focus?
Honey forms the base of our unctuous pasta sauce. When warmed with the pasta, it becomes runnier and coats each ribbon of Mafaldine with a glossy sheen.
Meanwhile, poppy seeds add a lovely nuttiness. Orange zest, so popular in Italian desserts, lifts the whole dish with its invigorating aroma.
Erbology Organic Italian Sweet Almond Oil
We like to finish our pasta with a drizzle of our Italian Sweet Almond Oil. Sourced sustainably from small organic farmers in Italy, it seems a very fitting final touch to this Italian-inspired dish.
Almond oil has a mildly nutty flavour which complements the poppy and orange. You may be tempted to add it into the pasta sauce while it is on the heat, but resist. Heat degrades some of the precious nutrients in the oil, which you’ll certainly want to hold onto.
For example, our oil is rich in vitamin E. This vitamin is an antioxidant and is renowned for its ability to care for your hair, skin and nails. It also contains phytosterols, which may help manage your cholesterol levels, and healthy unsaturated fatty acids.
If you have some left over from your pasta dish, try applying it directly onto your skin. It makes a lovely moisturiser and is non-comedogenic, so won’t clog your pores. Because our oils are extremely pure and unrefined, they are brilliant both to eat and to use in skincare, making them excellent multitaskers to keep in the cupboard!
How to serve
Sweet pasta is the sort of decadent dessert-slash-main-course that we love to make for ourselves when we get an evening on our own. However, it will soon gain fans among your friends and family when you spread the word.
Kids in particular will love the soft textures and sweet sauce.
However, it’s also a surprising and rather elegant finale to savoury main courses. Try serving with a little glass of dessert wine, if you like. Vinsanto or Moscato d’Asti would keep the Italian theme going.Mains
Ingredients85g dried Mafaldine pasta 350ml water Pinch of sea salt 15g poppy seeds 20g plant-based butter 1 tsp vanilla extract 3 tbsp honey 1 tsp muscovado sugar Zest from ½ organic orange + extra for garnish 2-4 tsp Erbology Organic Italian Sweet Almond Oil
- 85g dried Mafaldine pasta
- 350ml water
- Pinch of sea salt
- 15g poppy seeds
- 20g plant-based butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp muscovado sugar
- Zest from ½ organic orange + extra for g