Poor girl’s pain au chocolat

January 25, 2009

No, the “poor” in the title is not a reference to our socio-economic standing — although one might wonder, as much as I complain about budgets, recessions, and bone-dry embibing funds. I do actually realize that I’m not only not poor, but quite fortunate in countless ways. Just so you know that I know.

The title is just a lame attempt to put a fancy name on one of my favorite afternoon treats. You know, the one that I so deserve because my life is so hard? A take on poor man’s fill-in-the-blank seemed appropriate, since my version of pain au chocolat is not a croissant, and uses Nestlé chocolate chips. From a whopping 72-oz “chocolate-lover’s size” bag that I buy at a warehouse club.

The photo looks like Nutella — and there is definitely a place for that in the history of my kitchen. But I think I overdid the chocolate-hazlenut spread at some point, because a half-empty jar went bad in my pantry (I didn’t realize it could go bad, either). No, this snack consists of bread, butter, and chocolate chips. And a toaster oven.

Say you buy or make a loaf of dinner bread — a French or Italian loaf. The next day, you have some leftover. It’s 3 or 4 o’clock, about time for an afternoon snack. If it’s winter, something that would nicely accompany a cup of tea. You simply slice off a thick piece of day-old bread, and lightly toast it. Then you spread a little butter on top, grab a handful of chocolate chips (semi- or bittersweet would work), and scatter them evenly on the top (it really doesn’t take much). Stick it back in the toaster oven for another minute or so. When you pull out the bread, the chips will still look perfectly formed, albeit a bit shiny. Just grab a butter knife, and spread the chocolate across the top of the bread.

Voila. A treat in which the sum is much greater than its meager parts.

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