the french are glad to die for love, they delight in fighting duels

Having Chocolate French Toast Sandwiches for dinner may sound a little subversive (as far as these things go), but really it’s exactly the same as having scrambled eggs on toast followed by a chocolate bar. Mind you, I was never shocked by the idea of deep-fried Mars Bars. In fact, I loved and welcomed them when I was travelling through Scotland. There’s nothing quite like eating one the morning after a big night out. I’m not saying they make you feel better. If anything, the consumption of one just sharpens any lingering liver-related remorse. For a few moments though all is good, as you eat the salty, crisp, oily battered Mars Bar, with warm chocolate melting onto your fingers.

This recipe isn’t just novelty or excessiveness for its own sake. Whoever invented it knew exactly what they were doing. It’s respectable, and awesomely so. When I first made this it was for dinner on Wednesday night. I love having breakfast for dinner, and, as noted when I made pancakes for dinner, there’s a Pippi Longstocking-ish thrill to be had about eating what you want when you want. Plus it seems kinda shortsighted to restrict so many good, fast and simple food ideas to the early morning. I made them again for lunch today, which is when I discovered a further point in their favour – they still taste brilliant after sitting round for a several minutes while I photograph them.
Chocolate – French Toast – together – it speaks for itself, really. Except I’m not going to let it, because this wouldn’t be much of a food blog if all I did was post pictures of things with a caption saying the title of the recipe and “Ya-huh?” or “See?” afterwards.
So: The sensory experience of biting into crisp-edged, egg-soft bread and the contrast between its buttery exterior, puffy interior and the tongue-coatingly cocoa-y dark chocolate holding it together, is pretty outstanding. Both in terms of both texture and – surprise – taste.
While I could eat white chocolate all day, every day, I think the darker stuff works best here, because while it’s rich, it’s not too sweet. Any more going on and your veins might not be able to cope from the spike in blood sugar.
If you want to galvanise this basic recipe and make it more debonairly savoury, you could do as I did and slice up some ripe pear and feta cheese and use that inside the sandwich instead. Because juicy pear and soft, creamy, salty cheese nestled in a cocoon of the aforementioned eggy, buttery bread is almost enough to steal its chocolatey counterpart’s glory.
Despite the namechecking of the French, it seems right that I found a recipe of such unrestrainedness in an American magazine. This magazine, called Fine Cooking, is one of the better ones out there – in fact when one of Tim’s co-workers gave him some issues of it to give to me I was surprised at how much I liked them. I’m very particular about food magazines and wasn’t expecting to find an American one, with their differences in measurements and common ingredients and so on, to be so readily fantastic. But the recipes are gorgeous with a good mix of easy and aspirational; the layout is appealing and the writing is genuine and knowledgeable. Which sounds like a pretty simple formula – but several magazines seem to miss one or two of those elements. While I don’t think you can actually find Fine Cooking in shops here in New Zealand, they have a very cool website where you can easily look up recipes. Such as this one here for Chocolate French Toast Sandwiches. Which surely and specifically demonstrates that they know what they’re on about.
Seriously, this recipe is probably the most exciting thing that’s happened to me all week. Well, that and the fact that Tim and I have booked tickets to go up home and visit my family (including NEW KITTEN) for a weekend in September. And the fact that I won tickets to the Chocolate Festival next month thanks to the lovely Andrea of So D’lish. Actually…that happened last week…we’re so unexhilarating lately, but I do like it that way most of the time.
Chocolate French Toast Sandwiches

Slightly adapted from this recipe in Fine Cooking.

Four thick slices of white sandwich bread
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
A pinch of salt
40g dark chocolate (I used Whittakers Dark Ghana)

– Cut the slices of bread in half diagonally, so that you have eight triangles.
– Roughly chop the chocolate.
– Lightly whisk the eggs, then add the milk and the salt and mix again.
– Heat a little butter – as much as you like really, I used about a tablespoon – in a wide saucepan. Quickly dip four of the bread triangles into the egg-milk mixture and fry on both sides in the butter till golden brown.
– Lay two triangles each onto two plates, and divide the chocolate over the top.
– Repeat the dipping and frying with the remaining four triangles of bread, and then put them on top of the pieces on the plate, to complete the sandwiches. The heat of the top and bottom pieces will slowly melt the chocolate.

For a Pear and Feta variation, slice up a pear and some feta, as much as you like, and use that to fill the sandwiches instead.
Title via: Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, that evergreen song from Marilyn Monroe’s film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. (Look, I managed not to use the word iconic! Oh, wait…)
Music lately:

Laura Nyro. I’d heard of her before, but never actually heard her; oh my gosh. Been On A Train is strong stuff. Her voice is amazing. And, I had no idea she wrote the gorgeous Wedding Bell Blues.
Chess – for a musical about a game where the players are almost entirely sedentary, the music itself is – thankfully – extremely dramatic and exciting. While Nobody’s Side is the big power number for the ladies, I found myself on a bit of a Heaven Help My Heart rampage on Youtube today. Predictably, Idina Menzel’s version is my clear favourite, but Broadway original Judy Kuhn’s clear voice and emotional presence also makes for a beautiful rendition. Also Julia Murney’s is routinely amazing. Um, that’s all for now.

Next time: Not sure. Possibly something from Ottolenghi again, I just can’t quit that cookbook of his.

12 thoughts on “the french are glad to die for love, they delight in fighting duels

  1. Hannah says:

    So I know you said “Any more going on and your veins might not be able to cope from the spike in blood sugar”… but surely this must needs immediately and absolutely be made with peanut butter between the sheets (so to speak) as well? Or cream cheese, and then maple syrup on top….

    You've also suddenly thrown me through a loop, because I know I used to play a song from Chess on my clarinet, but I can't for the life of me remember the name of it. To Google with me!


  2. Anonymous says:

    Oooh, I am reminded of a particularly delicious and disgusting-sounding trip from uni days in Dunedin. Like this but quick and dirty – banana and nutella toasties. Take two slices of bread, butter liberally, add nutella and banana slices and make a toasted sandwich. Go on, try it.
    Oxford Kate


  3. hungryandfrozen says:

    Mum: Never 🙂

    Hannah: Cream cheese would be *excellent* as is the fact that you play clarinet. Find out and tell me, I'm curious!

    Foodycat: Fair enough, it's a bit more elegant!

    Kate: Clever you, that's up there with my golden syrup sandwiches 🙂

    CulinartMedia USA: Thanks!


  4. Vanille says:

    I'd be one happy girl if I bite in this chocolate French toast right now 😉 You never can go wrong with chocolate after all ! And thanks for sharing the Fine Cooking site too 😉


  5. Emma says:

    I always wanted to be Pippi for Halloween, because I always wanted bright red hair and freckles (and glasses and braces, but that's beside the point). It never worked out though, so perhaps I should just eat these sandwiches instead. Mr. Nilsson? What do you think?


  6. Anonymous says:

    You can serve them up for me any time, chocolate butties it would have been my dream sandwich when at school. Might have to try one for breakfast over the weekend, that's if I can stop using all the chocolate to make hot chocolate drink!


  7. Sasa says:

    I reckon that's a goer, and I'm supposed to be becoming a nutritionist…We just did n assignment where we computer analysed our own diets and mine seemed to be rather high on the saturated fats. When I removed the chocolate from the programme, it went waaaay down. Hm.


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