Hye Thyme Cafe: Faux Timpano di Maccheroni: A Marx Foods Challenge

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Faux Timpano di Maccheroni: A Marx Foods Challenge

If my sanity was ever in question, I'm pretty sure this one fully establishes that I'm a few fries short of a Happy Meal! Why do I do this to myself? I just can't resist a challenge ... well, at least a kitchen challenge. I volunteered for yet another Marx Foods recipe challenge, and this time around, the theme was Dinner for Dessert. Each participant was sent a sample of cocoa-flavored penne pasta and had to come up with a dessert that resembles an actual meal, while making sure the pasta plays "a major role in the finished dish."  

What on earth was I going to do with brown pasta? That's when my Pinterest switch flipped. I remembered having pinned a recipe a while back for a Timpano, never having seen such a thing before. If this is also new to you, it is a dome, sometimes made out of a bread or pizza dough, sometimes out of lasagna noodles or even phyllo dough. Inside this dome is typically found a layer of penne dressed in a red sauce/gravy, a layer of meatballs and/or sausage, etc., cheese, another layer of penne dressed in a bechamel sauce, and some halved hard-boiled eggs.

If you were to run a Google search, this is what you would likely see ...

Try as I did, I couldn't get my brain to move on to anything else, so I went with it. We'll suspend belief when it comes to the pasta and pretend it's a whole wheat, beet, or squid ink pasta to account for its dark color. 

I'm not bothering with an actual recipe because: a) I think it's pretty self explanatory by the description below; and b) I don't think anyone reading this will be crazy enough to make it themselves.  ;)

Because some of the versions I looked up appeared to have breadcrumbs on the outside, I was first thinking about using a sugar cookie dough for the shell, first spraying the bowl and lining it with crushed almonds for the breadcrumbs. Because I don't have a glass bowl the right size to have been able to see what was going on while it was baking, I figured it would be safer to switch to a blondie batter. I didn't want the cookie to be too brittle in the end.  

I pressed the dough into the bowl and attempted to bake it, only to take a peek in the oven and realize it had all slid to the bottom of the bowl. Next I tried a cream cheese pastry dough, thinking that was stiffer and would hold up better. Not so much! No matter what I tried, I couldn't get it to work. I didn't consider that ahead of time - trying to bake a bowl shape "inside" the bowl so it could be filled while not having a bowl to nest inside of it to keep the shape. I tried puff pastry, but that was actually the worst. I finally gave up and used a [flushes red with embarrassment] store-bought pie crust. I wrapped the dough over the rim of the bowl to hold it up, then shaved it back once baked.

I boiled the pasta in lightly salted water and tossed it in a bit of olive oil when it came out, per the package instructions, so it wouldn't stick together before I could get to it. And yes, it tastes exactly as the name suggests. I'll be curious to try it in a savory application sometime.

I baked one round layer of a red velvet cake, using the rest of the batter for cupcakes. To the cake batter, I added a touch of brown food gel coloring for more of a cooked meatball color. I sliced off the edges and rolled cubes from the center of the cake into meatballs.

Hard Boiled Egg Whites:
Because I am currently without a stand mixer, I was not going to attempt homemade marshmallow for this, so I melted down some store-bought marshmallows with a little butter. I lucked out and found some plastic Easter eggs at the grocery store that open lengthwise, so I sprayed the halves with PAM Baking and dusted them with a little cornstarch, filling them with the marshmallow mixture.

Hard Boiled Egg Yolks:
For the yolks, I baked one round layer of a lemon cake, adding a few drops of a lemon emulsion for an extra burst of flavor and some food coloring gel to deepen the color. Again, I used to rest of the batter for cupcakes and sliced the edges off the cake, rolling cubes into "yolks." I sliced them in half so that when I filled the egg shells with the marshmallow, I could press a half into each.

Whipped and thinned some Philadelphia White Chocolate Indulgence with a little cream.

Ragu/Red Sauce:
Cooked down some frozen strawberries with a bit of sugar and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, then mashed them.

Layer everything inside the baked shell, pop the top [soon to be bottom] on, invert onto a platter and cross your fingers that the shell is a) baked; and b) lets go of the bowl!! This would have been a heck of a lot easier if I could have filled it and then baked it, but I was afraid my "eggs" would melt.

Faux Bechamel
Faux Bechamel
Faux Ragu / Red Sauce
Faux Ragu/Red Sauce
Pie crust shell
Pie Crust Shell
Faux hard boiled eggs
Faux Hard-boiled Eggs

Boiled cocoa-flavored penne
Penne Layer
Bechamel layer
Bechamel Layer

Hard boiled egg layer
Upside-down egg layer
Ragu/Red Sauce Layer
Ragu/Red Sauce Layer

Inverted faux timpano
Yay!  It let go of the bowl!

Sliced faux timpano

If you'll excuse me, I have to answer the door. I see two gentlemen in nice while uniforms. They're coming to take me away ...


  1. haha, this looks pretty crazy :) in a good way, of course! i've never tried a timpano, but love what you did here!

    1. After this, the "real thing" must be a breeze! I'll have to try that next. :)

  2. Not sure if I am scared of you or admire you. ;-)

    1. I'm a little scared of me if that helps LOL.

  3. This was a tough one wasn't it? I kept staring at that pasta, and it just stared back at me for a loooong time.

    1. I think it was really the color that threw me more than anything - wondering what I would make as a "real" entree with cocoa penne...

  4. It sounds crazy! A great post for that challenge! Haven't heard of Timpano before, thanks for introducing it to me!

    1. It sounds crazy or I sound crazy?? ;)

  5. This is insane and fun and incredible! The real question, how did it taste? :-)

  6. How could you go wrong with chocolate, marshmallow, white chocolate, and strawberry? All of the flavors go well together - except maybe the lemon yolks? But as it is, it was the type of thing I ate mostly individually anyhow - an egg, then a meatball, then the pasta with some white chocolate (bechamel sauce), then pasta with the strawberry (ragu/red sauce) ... it all worked. :)


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