September 10, 2003
The Great Salivation
Omg, does anyone have a permalink for Michael Boodro's "Bread Alert" from the recent (9/7/03) NYT Magazine? This may be the recipe that drives me to the inaugural use of the George Foreman my sisters gave me ages ago. Of course I do have a sandwich press as well. And a huge bottle of Nutella in the pantry. Article and recipe follows below.
By MICHAEL BOODRO
The Atkins diet has triumphed, the French diet guru Michel Montignac is in resurgence and ''low carbs'' has become the mantra (or is it war cry?) of the fit and fabulous. So in a clever bit of adaptation, bread, once the benign starter to every restaurant meal, has migrated to the other, more sinful side of the menu. It has become dessert.
Bread pudding, of course, has long been a favorite of children of all ages. And the French have always paired bread with chocolate; pain au chocolat is now ubiquitous. But the grilled chocolate sandwich is both simpler and more decadent, a primal blast of bread and chocolate in which the two components are evenly matched -- and mutually enhancing.
In part, this new sandwich is a reflection of the popularity of panino shops around the city. And Lord knows, all those owners of George Foreman grills are always looking for something new to do with their favorite gadget. So perhaps the grilled chocolate sandwich was inevitable. What's fascinating is how varied the combination becomes in the hands of talented chefs.
At the Chickenbone Cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Zakary Pelaccio grills bittersweet chocolate between slices of rich brioche, creating a density akin to the most elegant cake. 'Wichcraft bills its chocolate sandwich as a breakfast item (albeit available all day). However, melted chocolate, roasted banana and hazelnut on brioche is morning fare only for those who find Krispy Kremes a touch too ascetic.
At the City Bakery, the owner and chef Maury Rubin has come up with the simplest and most delicious variation. He uses the finest-grained white bread, lightly buttered, then filled with a ganache and batons of dark chocolate. Grilled and cut on the diagonal, it evokes the joys of that archetypal childhood treat, the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, but it is a far darker, more sophisticated creation. ''Most pastry looks great but never tastes quite as good as you think it will,'' Rubin says. ''This is exactly the opposite experience.''
Maury Rubin's Grilled Chocolate Sandwich
8 ounces dark (bittersweet) chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 to 16 slices of plain white bread
Handful of chocolate batons ( 1/2 inch long) or chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup)
3 to 4 tablespoons soft butter.
1. Chop the chocolate fine and set aside in a medium bowl.
2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until just slightly solid, about 30 minutes.
3. Spread a layer of the chocolate mixture 1/4-inch thick (approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons) on half the bread sides to within about 1/4 inch of the edges. Press about 2 teaspoons of the chocolate chips (or 5 or 6 pieces of batons) into the center of each filling.
4. Spread a bit of softened butter over one side of the remaining slices. Buttered side up, place the slice over each chocolate-spread slice and press lightly around the edges to seal. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before putting on a grill or on a press. (If you are using a skillet instead, freeze the sandwich 15 minutes.)
5. Heat a grill or sandwich press (or a large griddle or skillet over medium-high heat), and add the sandwiches. Press on one side only for a minute or two (depending on the particular grill or press you're using) until the bread is nicely browned; the chocolate should be barely melted and not swimming out the side. If you are using a griddle or skillet, heat the sandwich first on the unbuttered side until lightly toasted, about 1 minute; turn the sandwich over and weight it down by placing a baking sheet or pan on top of the sandwich and placing a few soup cans on top. Toast for another minute, until golden. Cut in half and finish with a frilled toothpick.
Yield: 6 to 8 sandwiches.