Friday, November 12, 2010

Souffled Gnocchi (or angel pillows enrobed with cheese!)

697430I'm in the mood for something decadent today, and in my world decadent means cheese. Lots of gooey, golden, bubbling cheese. A macaroni casserole would certainly fit the bill, but I want to try something a bit more daring.

A few weeks ago I prepared mashed potato gnocchi. Gnocchi made with potatoes is tender yet chewy and can be used in so many ways--topped with fresh herbs and melted butter, sauted with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes, covered with alfredo, marinara, or meat sauce. But that still isn't good enough. No, I want something different still--something light and fluffy. So I reached into the depths of my card file and found...

Souffled Gnocchi

3 cups whole milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semolina (3 oz; sometimes labeled "semolina flour"*)
3 large eggs
7 tablespoons finely grated

4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Bring milk with salt to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Add semolina in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly. Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, 12 minutes (mixture will be very stiff).

Remove from heat and stir in eggs 1 at a time, then stir in 6 tablespoons cheese and 3 tablespoons butter. Spread gnocchi mixture into a 1/2-inch-thick slab on an oiled baking sheet using a lightly oiled rubber spatula, then chill, uncovered, until cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.

Cut out rounds from gnocchi mixture with 2-inch cookie cutter dipped in cool water and gently transfer rounds (they will be very soft), slightly overlapping, to buttered baking dish. Chill gnocchi, uncovered, 1 hour.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.
Melt remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and brush over gnocchi, then sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cheese.

Bake in upper third of oven 10 minutes, then switch dish to lower third of oven and continue to bake until gnocchi are slightly puffed and lightly browned, about 10 minutes more. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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