Yesterday we received our second preschool rejection letter and I was pretty disappointed. It was easier for me to get into grad school than it is to get our 2 1/2 year old in to a preschool for next fall. My husband and I are both exasperated at this whole process of applications, interviews, and observations that we’ve been through, which started last October and is apparently not over yet. It’s preschool, for crying out loud!!!
Luckily, since I had promised to post this recipe, I had a good excuse to make more Chocolate Toast with Olive Oil and Sea Salt. I found this recipe in one of my very favorite cookbooks, The Essential New York Times Cookbook, by Amanda Hesser. I have made a few modifications to suit my preferences, which I’ll share below. The first time I made this, on Valentine’s Day, I used a mediocre chocolate (it was on sale, what can I say) and a store-bought, crusty French baguette. Unfortunately, the results were as mediocre as the ingredients, as is usually the case in cooking, but no one complained. This time I decided to turn it up a notch so I used Vahlrona Le Noir Amer 71% Cacao and a Parisian baguette with a chewier texture and a tougher crust. The result was a far superior treat, with just a little more investment. Well worth it, in my estimation.
chewy baguette, cut in roughly 1/4 inch slices
dark chocolate bar, broken into squares
good quality olive oil for drizzling
sel de mer, coarse ground (if you don’t have this, use kosher salt or some other coarse salt, but don’t use table salt, ew!)
Heat the oven to 300° F. Lay as many slices of bread on a baking sheet as you want to eat. Last night I just made two of them, one for my husband and one for me. Hesser has you drizzle the olive oil on the chocolate, but I prefer it drizzled on the toast, since when I poured it over the chocolate the bread didn’t absorb as much of it and the flavor was not as noticeable. Although I didn’t, you could put some on the bread and also on the top of the chocolate, but I would wait until the chocolate is out of the oven before I added it since much of it runs off the melting chocolate.
After you’ve drizzled the slices with olive oil, place a square of chocolate on each toast point and then sprinkle it with the sea salt.
Place the pan in the hot oven and check after 2 minutes. You want the chocolate to be “molten,” to quote Amanda Hesser, but not seeping through the bread. It might take up to 4 or 5 minutes, depending on your chocolate, and on your oven, so stay close to the oven and don’t be afraid to peak in. While they are in the oven you will be able to smell the olive oil heating up, which produces a near primal reaction in me when coupled with the smell of the warming bread. Add to it the bitter chocolate and you have something like a working-woman’s pan au chocolat.
This treat is a subtle delight. It doesn’t “pop” in your mouth, or conjure up images of childhood, but it is elegant in it’s rustic nature and easy enough to make when you want something more than a piece of chocolate, but don’t want to get out the stand mixer to make it. When I made it for guests (twice this week) there wasn’t a piece left over and it is nearly as easy to make 12 or more of them as it is to make two. Moreover, it is just different enough–with the combination of chocolate, olive oil, and sea salt–that your guests will be wowed by its novelty and impressed by its taste. A win win for you and your guests. Enjoy with coffee or a splash of ruby port.