Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Morning After (Chocolate Sandwiches)

On weekend mornings, I tend to be grumpily awoken by passionate, plaintive meowing for breakfast. Cats being fed, I trudge back to bedroom and try to get some more sleep. Early Morning James has one objective: more sleeping; and he will go to great lengths to ensure it. Of course, on some mornings you want to do something special and, at those times, it's nice to have a meal that can be easily prepared and quickly returned to the bedroom, too.

Morning pick-me-up
Panini Cioccolato is a fancy name for a grilled chocolate sandwich and, like it's cheesy cousin, it's astoundingly simple to make and incredibly satisfying. The list of ingredients is simple: a baguette, a jar of your favorite chocolate hazelnut spread, and a pat of extra-rich European style butter. Using only a few ingredients puts them front and center, so it's important to go for quality.

More fat = more flavor. An inconvenient truth.
Of course, the sandwich alone is nice, but everything's in the presentation. I recommend serving these with fresh fruit or berries and perhaps a small dish of loosely whipped cream. A flute of champagne or mimosa wouldn't be unwelcome, either.

Ever so fruity
Served hot from the pan, these little sandwiches are richly gilded by frying butter and filled with hot, oozing, fragrant chocolate. Decidedly decadent and definitively delectable, I honestly could recommend these any time of day. Whether you're cooking to impress or just want something quick in the morning, this one's a keeper.

Good Morning!
Panini Cioccolato (Chocolate Sandwich)

I prefer to use whole grain bread for this dish, but you can bring out the white should you so choose. If you have the foresight to slice the bread the night beforehand (sealing it in a plastic bag), assembly is even easier. The fancy butter is a secret weapon because its higher fat content yields a richer, golden crust.

1/2 loaf baguette
6 tbs chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nocciolata or Nutella)
2 tbs unsalted European butter (I like Plugra; Lurpak and Beurre d'Isingny work well, too)
Fresh fruit or berries

Warm a heavy skillet on medium heat while thinly slicing the baguette at a slight bias to yield longer, elliptical slices.

Putting it on thick
Liberally apply chocolate hazelnut spread to half the slices (6 tbs is just the lowest acceptable threshold) and sandwich the chocolate between the remaining slices of bread.

The Leaning Tower of Chocolate - this did not end well
Melt the butter in the skillet, and add the sandwiches, spaced slightly apart. There should be a notable sizzle. Continue to cook until bronzed and shining, about 2 minutes.

Sizzling merrily away
Using a spatula, flip the sandwiches over and continue to cook for about 2 minutes more. Serves 2.



Unknown said...

Sounds as good as a chocolate croissant! Love your accompaniments.

J said...

Exactly! Pane au chocolat has always been one of my favorite breakfasts. Chocolate for breakfast, what's not to love? It was definitely an inspiration.