Recipe: Chocolate Bread Parfait / Pane di Cioccolato al Cucchiaio

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Lidia Bastianich's Chocolate Bread Parfait

This dessert recalls for me the chocolate-and-bread sandwiches that were sometimes my lunch, and always a special treat. How simple but how delicious those two piece 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 provides a great textural contrast in every heavenly spoonful. Even when you think you have nothing in the house for dessert, this is a recipe I am sure you can conjure up. It’s  best when served immediately, while the  melted chocolate is still warm and runny.

Serves 6

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces country-style white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
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, and stir in the sugar until sugar dissolves, and stir in half the melted chocolate. Pour the coffee-chocolate 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.

To assemble the parfaits: Break the soaked bread into 1-inch pieces. Use half the pieces to make the bottom parfait layer in six serving glasses, dropping and equal amount of chocolate-dipped 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. Drizzle some of the remaining melted chocolate on as well. Next, drop a layer of whipped cream into the glasses, using up half the cream. Top the cream layer with toasted almonds, using half the nuts. Repeat another layer of all ingredients. To finish, dollop another layer of whipped cream, using it all up, and sprinkle the remaining almonds and drizzle remaining melted chocolate on top of each parfait.