Grilled chocolate within caramelised toasted bread is the snack of the summer
By KATE KRADER / Pic BLOOMBERG
IN THE Sandwich Hall of Fame, the grilled cheese is prominently displayed. It’s the culinary equivalent of a one-name cultural phenomenon such as Rihanna or Bono; the lunchtime staple requires no “sandwich” descriptor for people to know exactly what it is.
Still, there’s always an opportunity to shake things up — to pay homage to a classic by completely rethinking it. What’s great about a grilled cheese is the filling: The oozy, creamy centre encased between crisply toasted, buttery bread slices. Food writer Charlotte Druckman opted to sub in chocolate.
Druckman isn’t the first to put chocolate between bread and call it a sandwich. It’s been a longtime favourite snack of children in Spain. Star chef and humanitarian hero José Andrés has popularised a dish of fancy chocolate on grilled bread drizzled with olive oil.
Inspired by him, Druckman arrived at her version, which is featured in her smart, new “Kitchen Remix: 75 Recipes for Making the Most of Your Ingredients” (Penguin Random House; US$28 or RM119.52).
In her book, Druckman encourages readers to imagine multiple scenarios for products they have on hand. She groups ingredients into complementary trios: Chicken breast, mozzarella and arugula are configured as a chicken salad, as cutlets with marinated mozzarella and as potato-crusted breasts with arugula pesto.
It’s a book that’s geared for people who ordered large batches of ingredients and are now stuck in a potential Groundhog Day scenario, eating the same thing every night.
“It’s hard to teach resourcefulness,” notes Druckman. “But this book is helpful for people who are looking at what’s in their fridge and thinking, ‘Isn’t there something else I can do?’”
For her pairing of bread, chocolate and olive oil, Druckman offers recipes for a bread pudding, a semifreddo and this transformative snack — or lunch, for those who believe that chocolate can be a meal — which she hacks with a brown sugar mayonnaise. The genius product creates a caramelised crust on the pan-fried bread and adds sweetness to the bittersweet chocolate filling, especially with a sprinkle of salt.
“Since mayo is basically olive oil and egg, it’s like giving the bread French toast treatment,” says Druckman.
Her recipe is open to innovation. You can use brioche or sourdough instead of white bread; a pinch of cinnamon accents the chocolate; cayenne adds intriguing heat. A little grated orange zest makes it fruity, as does a spread of marmalade.
There’s the option of almond butter instead of the classic unsalted. If you have a jar of Nutella handy, sub it for the chocolate. “There are lots of choices,” says Druckman of her new classic.
The following recipe is adapted from “Kitchen Remix”. It’s a bit messy on your work surface — be warned — but worth the cleanup. — Bloomberg
Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1⁄2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
- 8 (1⁄2-inch-thick) slices sturdy white bread
- About 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 4oz bittersweet chocolate baking disks (about 3⁄4 cup)
- Flaky salt
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and brown sugar.
Arrange the bread slices on a work surface and spread the tops with the sweetened mayonnaise, to coat.
Flip the slices over and brush the other sides with olive oil.
Divide the chocolate among four bread slices, drizzle with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
Cover the four chocolate-topped bread slices with the remaining slices, oil-side down.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium- low heat.
Place two of the sandwiches in the hot skillet and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and caramelised, from three to four minutes.
Flip the sandwiches and cook until the second sides are golden brown and the chocolate is melted, about three minutes.
Transfer the finished sandwiches to a plate, wipe the pan clean and cook the remaining sandwiches the same way.
Let the sandwiches cool for a couple of minutes before cutting them in half and serving hot.