The Case For Adding Instant Coffee Grounds To Gnocchi Dough

Coffee and biscuits are an acceptable duo, but coffee and gnocchi? It's a pairing bound to raise at least a few eyebrows. As dissimilar as the two ingredients may be, joining them together can actually make for a very harmonious outcome. Trust us when we tell you that there is indeed a method to the madness.

Essentially, every single ingredient is made up of chemical compounds that can directly impact the taste. However, sometimes even the most unlike of ingredients can share similar compounds, such is the case for coffee and potatoes. As a result, it can be safe to assume that these ingredients have all the makings of a great (albeit out-of-the-box) pairing. That said, what makes instant coffee a particularly viable match for potato-based gnocchi is not just complementary flavors, but texture. Given that gnocchi tend to boast a smooth and pillowy consistency, coupling crunchy flecks of ground coffee can pleasantly juxtapose the pasta's mouthfeel.

Aside from playing with taste and texture, working instant coffee grounds into gnocchi dough is also a fantastic idea because it's an incredibly easy and inexpensive way to elevate a lackluster pasta recipe. Not to mention that the unusual combination can even act as the perfect gateway to explore other unexpected flavor pairings.

How to make awe-inspiring coffee gnocchi

Incorporating instant or freeze-dried coffee grounds into gnocchi dough is as simple as it sounds. However, there are some factors to consider in order to produce the best results. For example, rather than add several heaping spoonfuls of coffee to the dough, it's wise to use grounds sparingly. Aim for about one tablespoon as this will impart just enough coffee flavor and crunch, without overwhelming the delicate dough.

Since the fluffiest gnocchi can only be achieved by not overworking the dough, incorporating instant coffee at the same time as other ingredients are ideal. Doing this will allow the little crystals to evenly diffuse into the dough as the ingredients come together, all the while eliminating the risk of excessive kneading. Once the dough is formed, cut into dumplings, and cooked until it's al dente, the last thing to ponder is how to serve the gnocchi in a way that highlights the coffee grounds. 

There are two routes that you can take — sweet or savory. To craft dessert-inspired gnocchi, consider dressing the dumplings in spiced browned butter or vanilla cream sauce. A drizzle of melted chocolate and macerated berries can also do wonders. Instead, for a savory take, mild and creamy cheeses like ricotta or mascarpone can complement the gnocchi, while earthy braised meat, nutmeg-laden bolognese, or even smoky grilled shellfish can also play well with the pasta's underlying toastiness. Consider instant coffee-laced gnocchi your invitation to experiment with flavor.