Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


That’d be Bread and Chocolate, Esteemed Readers. It’s the name of an award-winning 1974 film, and it also happens to be a tasty combination of comestibles.

Bread and chocolate, taken separately, may be found in a myriad of toothsome forms. When they join forces, the result may be greater than the sum of its parts.

One example: the beloved-by-Francophiles pain au chocolat, a buttery, flaky roll of croissant dough enfolding a core of bittersweet chocolate. Not having been a French schoolchild growing up, I did not come home from school every day to a warm petit pain au chocolat and a cup of café au lait in which to dunk it, but that’s probably a good thing. I would have been the first French schoolchild to weigh over 500 kilograms.

The Nutella sandwich is another felicitous bread-chocolate concoction. A thick schmear of chocolate-hazelnut spread on your choice of breadstuff - what’s not to love? It is irresistible, for which reason I never keep Nutella in the house.

One could certainly make the case for chocolate babka being a sort of bread-and-choccy Baked Good, given that it is composed of veins of cinnamon-chocolate filling dispersed in a yeast-raised dough matrix. Chocolate babka, in my not-so-humble opinion, is what the pain au chocolat wishes it had been: not merely satisfying, but enthralling.

Yesterday, I tried something new: Chocolate Bread. Yes, you read that correctly. Chocolate Bread. Check it out:

Chocolate Bread

This is something that you see now and again at the Back in the Day Bakery, and, alas, the recipe has been included in their thoroughly dastardly cookbook. Of course, I had to try my hand at it.

To all appearances, it looks like a nice loaf of pumpernickel... but once you hack off a slice and bite into it, you know it ain’t no pumpernickel. No pumpernickel I’ve ever seen, anyway.

Maybe it’s the glistening globs of bittersweet chocolate studded throughout. Or maybe it’s the crunchy topping of caramelized turbinado sugar. Perhaps it’s the mellow flavor imparted by the Dutch cocoa. Whatever it is, it’s simply ridiculous. And I mean that in a good way.

Chocolate Bread Slice

Though it carries a modest layer of chocolate-driven sweetness, its bready texture and bittersweet undertones make this a complex, distinctly un-dessertlike affair. Elizabeth on 37th, a fine Savannah dining establishment, serves this stuff up at wine tastings, and after snarfing down a few slices with a substantial draught of Château L’Argentier Coteaux de Languedoc 2005, I can vouch for the excellence of the pairing. It also goes well with cheese - Cabot Clothbound Cheddar would play very well with it - and only simple decency prevented me from slathering a piece with butter.

All of this is just gilding the lily, however. It was perfectly fine when gobbled up by the handful, ripp’d untimely from the steaming loaf.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and the girls may never forgive me. Hell, I may never forgive me.


DogsDontPurr said...

I recall making something like this from a recipe in Maida Heatter's chocolate cookbook. I think it called for whipping cream instead of butter. OMG...that was...amazingly decadent!
Dang, I have some serious cravings now!!!

Elisson said...

Don't even get me started on Maida Heatter's books. Her Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (AKA "The Bible") has been ever-present in my life for over thirty years, and there's not a single dud in there. Her Torte Soufflé au Chocolat, a dense flourless cake, is one of my faves... and even as we speak I have a bit of her World's Best Hot Fudge Sauce sitting in a jar in the fridge. It lives up to its billing.

Fiona Kathleen Hogan said...

I think I have to plan *when* I read your blog.... like.... not anytime close to any meal time. Ever! lol.

Seriously, cook book of your own, please!!