Bread and chocolate… A traditional afternoon snack for French schoolkids. When we were growing up in Paris, we used to stop at our neighborhood bakery for a baguette on the way home from school in the afternoon. My mom would break off pieces for the four of us, stick four squares of chocolat Kohler into each one (she had nothing but scorn for two competing chocolate brands, Poulain and Menier which she deemed ordinaires) and we’d be in business.
I loved getting the pictures which came with each tablet and glueing them in themed albums (that the company would send against a set number of proof-of-purchase seals). Sometimes there would even be a raffle and even though I never won anything that I can remember, I was a huge fan of the brand as well and happily ate my snack every day (my album collection grew at a fast clip because my three brothers devoured their bread and chocolate with as much gusto as I did but considered it beneath their male dignity to show the slightest interest in the pictures).
The albums are long gone. These days, I buy our chocolate at Trader Joe’s and afternoon snacks are the stuff of memory. Nevertheless my interest was instantly piqued when I spotted a recipe for sourdough chocolate bars in sated, a new print-on-demand quarterly.
Sated (which I am tempted to describe as the ultimate foodie magazine) is the brainchild of two famous food bloggers, pastry expert and cookbook author Anita Chu of Dessert First and food+travel photographer Stephanie Shih of desserts for breakfast. The whole glorious first issue is devoted to dark chocolate and it doesn’t disappoint: it is full of tips, stories, addresses and luscious photos that make you want to go straight home and temper away even if you have never had the slightest desire to do so before… (If you are interested in finding out more about sated and its editors, you may want to check out the review/interview posted on The Foodie Bugle which is where I first heard of the magazine).
The recipe calls for 60-70% cocoa chocolate. I used 71% Valrhona which is rather on the dark side and certainly not for the faint of heart. My chocolate aficionada in-residence pronounced it perfect, so I won’t dial the cocoa percentage down. But if I were making these bars for myself, I’d probably go for 60%.
The recipe also calls for a sprinkle of sea-salt. The Man doesn’t like the salt and sweet combo. So I stayed away from the extra salt. Even so he found the sourdough bars too salty (just from the salt in the bread). Next time I will sprinkle sea salt on the chocolate as indicated (since we all love the sweet and salty taste except for him) and I’ll make him a treat that he will enjoy more.
It was my first time trying to make anything chocolate other than cookies or cakes or the odd truffle. The bars I made don’t look like anything a pro would make (oddly, sated doesn’t show a picture of the finished product for this particular recipe, so it’s hard to know what to shoot for, looks-wise). However I didn’t hear any complaints about the little holes which doted the sides or the less than clean-cut edges.
These bars are all about having fun using your leftover bread and making your chocolate people happy! Plus they are crisp and very, very good. Thank you, Anita and Stephanie, for kindly allowing me to post the recipe!
- 70 g sourdough baguette (I actually used slices off a sourdough boule)
- 225 g dark (60-70%) chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s 71% Valrhona dark chocolate)
- sea salt
Note: The ingredients are listed above in half the amounts indicated in the magazine. Even so I ended up not using it all because my one mold (a gently used professional one which was given to me by a friend) only makes four 25 g bars. Before proceeding and making more, I wanted to make sure the bars met with my tasters’ approval. Now that I know they do, I will re-temper my leftover chocolate and forge ahead or should I say… melt away?
- Slice sourdough into 1/4-inch slices
- Place slices on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, flipping halfway through until the bread is dry and lightly toasted (I used the dehydrator which probably took away some of the taste because there was no caramelization. Something to think about for next time…)
- Remove from oven
- Place sourdough slices in a food processor and process into small crumbs
- Finely chop the chocolate and set aside one-third of it
- Place the remaining two-thirds in a bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water
- Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally
- When the chocolate has fully melted and has reached just above 105°F/221°C, remove the bowl from the saucepan, dry the bottom of the bowl with a dish towel (presumably to remove any hot water drops) and stir in the reserved chocolate until the temperature drops to 88-90°F/31-32°C
- Carefully remove any unmelted pieces of chocolate and set them aside (for use in another tempering session or another recipe)
- Pour the chocolate into the mold cavities
- Carefully sprinkle the sourdough crumbs over the chocolate, followed by a sprinkling of sea salt (if desired) (about 1/2 teaspoon for 28 g of chocolate)
- Tap the molds gently on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles (I still got some on the sides)
- Use a metal spatula to carefully scrape away any extra chocolate around the molds
- Place the molds in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes
- Remove when the chocolate looks set and firm and the edges begin to pull away from the side of the molds
- Turn the chocolate bars out onto a clean surface