Gnocchi are traditional Italian fare with their name originating from the word “nocca”, meaning “knuckle”. They are prepared a variety of ways mostly using a flour of some kind, eggs and usually a potato or cheese. They are thick dumplings that are typically poached, then sauteed. They are often served as a first course in Italian cuisine and their smaller counterparts, gnocchetti, can often be found in soups like minestrone.
For this gnocchi I used roasted sweet potato that was pureed and flavored with cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, cardamom, clove and dark brown sugar. A little Grand Marnier and orange zest was added to the sweet potato puree. I used roughly one cup of puree, a cup of all-purpose flour, one egg and one egg yolk to prepare the dough. The amount of flour varies greatly depending on how thick the puree is. Before shaping the dough lightly flour your work surface and your hands to help prevent sticking.
After the dough is prepared it should sit for thirty minutes to allow the dough to relax, resulting in a more tender product. The dough can then be cut into smaller portions and rolled by hand into long, snake-like shapes. Using a knife or bench scraper cut small portions of gnocchi from the dough. These pillow-like portions can then be rolled over the back of a fork or over a gnocchi paddle, using your thumb to create an indention in the center. The ridges on the outside and the pocket formed in the center creates a nice texture and helps the gnocchi hold onto sauce when it is served.
The gnocchi should be cooked in simmering water just until they float then chilled immediately in ice water to cool them down quickly. Saute lightly in whole butter to re-heat and finish with the sauce of your choice. With the sweet potato gnocchi I used only browned butter and chopped sage.