This recalls for me the chocolate- and- bread sandwiches that sometimes were my lunch, and always a special treat. And it is another inventive way surplus is used in Umbrian cuisine, with leftover country bread serving 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 pleasing textural contrast in every heavenly spoonful.
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces country- style white bread, crusts removed
½ cup freshly brewed espresso
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ cups chilled heavy cream
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Recommended equipment: A large rimmed tray or baking sheet, such as a 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 ½-inch- thick slices, and lay them fl at 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 the melted chocolate is still warm and runny.