"Good dark chocolate has bitter and acidic elements, as does good bread. In the kitchen, they are drawn to each other. They also couldn't be easier to combine, especially in this recipe, where the four ingredients — bread, chocolate, olive oil, and salt — are left in their raw state, with just a dash of heat to encourage them to mingle." - Amanda Hesser, The Essential New York Times Cookbook.
I had been wanting to try this recipe for ages but kept putting it off. It seemed a bit too decadent to make for breakfast. And too austere for a dessert after a big home-cooked meal. And whenever I buy a baguette, I usually just polish it off with way too much cheese.
Then curiosity got the better of me. I mean, they're just so simple. In the recipe's headnotes in The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Amanda Hesser recalls eating these toasts at a tapas bar in Barcelona, "warmed until the chocolate was as soft as cream." They're also similar to an old-fashioned way for making pain au chocolate in France, just tucking a bar of chocolate into a baguette.
I finally made these for an afternoon snack one day and they were the perfect pick-me-up with a cup of tea. The Scharffen Berger bittersweet baking chocolate I bought came in big chunks; when I went in with a knife to cut up small pieces, it crumbled into smaller shaved chocolate bits. Well, chocolate is chocolate. One tablespoon of chocolate with good olive oil and coarse sea salt atop each slice of baguette, and they were good to go, into the oven.
As for any lingering doubts that the toasts wouldn't be decadent enough for dessert later on...well, they quickly dissipated.
Toasts with Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt
- Eight 1/4-inch baguettes slices
- 8 thin 1-inch squares of bittersweet chocolate, or 1/3 cup shaved bittersweet chocolate
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lay the bread slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, tin foil, or a silicone baking sheet. Lay a chocolate square or a tablespoon of shaved chocolate on top of each. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and sea salt.
- Bake until the chocolate is molten but not yet seeping through the brea, about 3 to 5 minutes. The breas should be slightly crispy but not toast. Sprinkle with a bit more olive oil, salt, and remaining bits of shaved chocolate (if using), and serve immediately.
Adapted just slightly from The Essential New York Times Cookbook.