Chocolate Bread Parfait
Would you throw away leftover bread if you’ve known that you could make this heady yet luscious chocolate bread parfait? I wouldn’t so you shouldn’t either. I love the idea of using leftover bread which is abundant in Umbrian cuisine; it’s kinda like genoise cake but in a slightly chewy way met chocolate-coffee-rum sauce. This recipe was sent to me a long time ago but I haven’t had time to make it sooner. Spring is already here but this week, it’s quite rainy and cold in Oregon so I thought making this parfait sounded perfect for the weather.
This is an honest and humble dessert, using simple and basic components but the result will sway you away. The sauce is on the spot, not too sweet, very chocolatey, and the rum shines on. I had to substitute almonds for pistachios because they’re what I had at home. Even with that, they didn’t take away the flavor intended in the dessert. Half of the recipe was just enough for us, more than that meant I need a strong determination not to eat all of them!
Chocolate Bread Parfait (Pane di Cioccolato al Cucchiaio)
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—I used pistachios
Recommended equipment: A large rimmed tray or baking sheet, such as half-sheet pan (12 by 18 inches); a spouted measuring cup, 1 pint or larger; 6 parfait glasses or wineglasses, preferably balloon-shaped
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 the 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 the six serving glasses, dropping an equal amount of chocolatey 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: drop more soaked bread into each glass, drizzle over it the chocolate sauce from the tray and the remaining melted chocolate. Dollop another layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using it all up, and sprinkle the remaining almonds on top of each parfait. This dessert is best when served immediately while melted chocolate is still warm and runny.
Source: reprinted with permission from Lidia Mattichio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, authors of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes.