Meet Amanda Hesser's Toasts with Chocolate and Fleur de Sel. I chose the recipe because it embodies everything that I loved and hated about Cooking for Mr. Latte. Amanda Hesser is basically the anti-Nigella. In this single recipe--which is not really even a recipe, but a paragraph--she admonishes us to use "the best bittersweet chocolate you can find" and "the best extra virgin olive oil you own" and fleur de sel. She does note that, in absolutely desperate circumstances, you could probably make do with coarse sea salt.
Here's the thing: basically any combination of top of the line, best-available baguette, chocolate, olive oil, and fleur de sel is going to turn out tasty. But you don't do your reader much of a service if you imply that each of the ingredients must be absolute top quality. Of course, we'll all use the best we can, but what about when "the best extra virgin olive oil you own" is actually the store brand from Safeway, and (like your humble correspondent) it makes no claims about its virginity? Is it still worth making the recipe? Would these toasts perhaps be a fun novelty food if made with a Hershey's bar? No such information is forthcoming from Amanda. The fact that the book is filled with whimsical chick-lit drawings that depict Ms. Hesser as a fashion sketch do nothing to endear her to me either.
But here's where you have to give the book credit: The woman knows her food. And loves it. She readily admits to dreaming about beets. You've got to respect that. And the recipes that she included in the book are good. Really good. Every single one I've tried has been excellent and eye-opening. (I'll blog about the stellar "Single-girl salmon" later.)
The chocolate toasts were no exception. All the joy of a chocolate-covered pretzel, and ten times the class. And easy! Here's the "recipe":
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice a baguette into 1/4 inch slices. Put one little square of chocolate on each slice, arrange on a baking sheet, and pop it into your hot oven. When the chocolate is soft, but still holding its shape, remove from the oven, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on a tiny bit of salt. As Amanda reminds us, "the salt should enliven the flavor of the chocolate, not make it salty."
In the spirit of fairness (and Sugar High Friday experimentation), I also tried them with Hershey's Special Dark, defiled olive oil, and sea salt:
The Human Vacuum graciously performed a blind taste test. The results: One out of one eaters agreed that the Hershey's toasts were superior. (Actually, I prefered the snobby toasts, but the point is--Do whatever you want. They'll still be good.)
Happy Sugar High Friday!
Tagged with: SHF #13 + Dark Chocolate