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Caramelle with Eggplant, Cocoa, Espresso & Sungold Tomatoes

Executive Chef Anthony Strong


5 lbs eggplant

8 oz fresh mozzarella, diced

1/4 lemon, zested

Extra virgin olive oil

Cocoa powder

Black pepper, finely ground

2-3 lbs fresh pasta dough

1 egg yolk

Ground coffee or espresso

2 lbs Early Girl tomatoes

1 lb Sungold tomatoes

1 clove garlic

Extra virgin olive oil


Chili flakes

Coarse sea salt

Finely-ground coffee or espresso


Bury eggplant completely in hot coals and ashes and roast them until they are completely soft and creamy to the touch; this will take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, depending on size and heat level. As an alternative, eggplant can also be slowly roasted in an oven until reaching same result. When eggplants are cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the inside flesh, discarding the skins.

Finely mince eggplant and mix it with mozzarella and lemon zest. Season eggplant mixture to taste with olive oil, salt and generous amounts of cocoa powder and pepper. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag and chill until using.

Roll out pasta dough until almost paper-thin. Mix egg yolk with a splash of water, and brush a thin layer of egg-wash over half of the dough. Sprinkle a generous, even layer of coffee over the egg-washed half, and fold unbrushed half carefully over the top of it, pressing firmly. Pass pasta once more through desired thinness setting, the result will be a stained-glass effect with the coffee staining the pasta.

Cut pasta into small squares, brushing with another light layer of egg-wash, and pipe a small amount of the filling onto the squares. Roll the pasta into a cylinder around the filling (like a mini-cannelloni), ensuring that the top and bottom halves overlap to ensure a natural seam.

Carefully and firmly pinch both of the open ends shut, and give them a slight twist to make them resemble little wrapped candies. Freeze the pasta immediately until use.

Rinse and stem all of the tomatoes. Cut 1/2 of the Sungolds in half lengthwise and set aside. Place the rest of tomatoes into a blender and pulse on high speed until completely smooth. Strain through a china cap.

Meanwhile, press garlic clove and slowly sweat in olive oil in a wide, heavy bottom pot. Add a generous pinch of chili flake and tomato juice, increasing heat to high. Stir tomato constantly while cooking, reduce by 1/4, season to taste, and pass through a chinois.

Mix sea salt with ground coffee to coat it, and sift out excess coffee, leaving behind the black-stained salt.


Blanch pasta in a generous amount of lightly salted water. Heat enough sauce to coat the pasta in a sauté pan, and add in a few torn leaves of basil. When the Caramelle are al dente, add them to sauce with a big splash of pasta water and glaze them over high heat. Add a large splash of olive oil to the sauce and emulsify to make it silky, and finish at the last minute with the halved cherry tomatoes.

Plate the pasta, scraping any remaining sauce over it with a rubber spatula. Finish with a splash of olive oil and garnish with the espresso salt.

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