This dessert recalls for me the chocolate-and-bread sandwiches that sometimes were my lunch, and always a special treat. How simple but how delicious those two pieces of bread with chocolate in between were.
This is another inventive way to recycle leftover bread as the foundation of an elegant layered dessert. Though it is soaked with chocolate and espresso sauce and buried in whipped cream, the bread doesn’t disintegrate and has a great textural contrast in every heavenly spoonful.
Just when you think you have nothing in the house for dessert, this is a recipe I am sure you can conjure up. This dessert is best when served immediately while the melted chocolate is still warm and runny.
Lidia Bastianich is widely considered the first lady of Italian cooking. She owns several restaurants around the country, including one in Kansas City’s Crossroads district. She is a TV personality and award-winning cookbook author. This recipe is from “Lidia’s Favorite Recipes” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012). To find more recipes or follow her on social media, go to lidiasitaly.com.
Chocolate Bread Parfait (Pane di Cioccolato al Cucchiaio)
Makes 6 servings
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces country-style white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl set in a pan of hot (not boiling) water. When the chocolate begins to melt, stir until completely smooth. Keep it warm, over the water, off the heat.
Slice the bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices and lay them flat in one layer, close together, on a tray or baking sheet.
Pour the warm espresso into a spouted measuring cup, stir in the rum and sugar until sugar dissolves, then stir in half the melted chocolate. Pour the sauce all over the bread slices, then flip them over and turn them on the tray, to make sure all the surfaces are coated. Let the bread absorb the sauce for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, whip the cream until soft peaks form, by hand or with an electric mixer.
To assemble the parfaits: Break the bread into 1-inch pieces. Use half the pieces to make the bottom parfait layer in six serving glasses, dropping an equal amount of chocolate bread into each. Scrape up some of the unabsorbed chocolate sauce that remains on the baking sheet, and drizzle a bit over the bread layers. Next, drop a layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using up half the cream. Top the cream layer with toasted almonds, using half the nuts. Repeat the layering sequence. Dollop another layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using it all up, and sprinkle the remaining almonds on top of each parfait.
Per serving: 654 calories (71 percent from fat), 57 grams total fat (27 grams saturated), 82 milligrams cholesterol, 40 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 185 milligrams sodium, 8 grams dietary fiber.