It’s unlike any gnocchi I’ve ever had before. In place of the traditional Italian potato dumplings, pâte à choux (cream puff dough) is used. The dough is scooped by teaspoonfuls into boiling water and simmered briefly. It is then smothered in a rich béchamel (white sauce), topped with grated cheese (I used Grèyere) and baked until brown and bubbly.
I did run into a few things while making this. The gnocchi was a little difficult to drop into the boiling water. I used a measuring teaspoon and a butter knife to drop them in. My first few were a little big and took a while to cook through. Also, none of them are the same shape or size. The béchamel ended up being really thick. It is supposed to be poured over the gnocchi, but instead I had to spread it over the top. As a result I believe the béchamel didn’t enrobe all the dumplings as much as it was supposed to.
The word that kept coming to my mind while eating this was “ethereal”. The gnocchi were amazingly light and airy. How can something so rich be so light on the tongue?
I thoroughly enjoyed this dish, but my husband wasn’t quite so sure. He said it seemed “less like a main dish and more like a pseudo dessert”. It was only after this statement that I told him the recipe used cream puff dough! I don’t think he cared for the texture – I’m guessing he was looking for something with a little more bite. My 7 year old daughter seemed to enjoy it – although she loves any kind of carb baked with cheese!
While I enjoyed both making and eating this dish, it’s not something I will be making very often. It was a lot of work to make the dumplings and assemble all the components, and I ended up with a lot of dirty pots and bowls. I would like to try it again with a thinner béchamel. I had fun making this – I learned some new techniques and I got to try something different to eat!