I had such a blast with coming up with my entry for last month's Blog Party: The Buffy Bash, that I just had to "attend" another Blog Party, hosted by the wonderful Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness. Each month a theme is chosen and to attend you need to come up with an appetizer and cocktail that match the theme. This months theme is CHOCOLATE--how could I, certified chocoholic, resist that?!?
I LOVE chocolate (just in case that wasn't clear) and I really love chocolate combined with salt --the creamy, sweet and salty combination makes me giddy with happy delight. One of my favorite chocolate bars is Vosge's Barcelona Bar described as "Deep milk chocolate melts into the mineral and sumptuous taste of sea salt and roasted almonds, reminiscent of Marcona, Spain." I frequently crave Fran's Salted Caramels,for their kick of salty goodness. I knew I had to make a Blog Party appetizer pairing chocolate and salt and had settled pretty quickly on chocolate covered potato chips (another favorite), until my trip to New York, where I found "chocolate nirvana."
My tale of chocolate love goes like this: I was standing in Henri Bendel, waiting patiently while the fine lines on my friend's hands were magically whisked away by a very persuasive salesperson in cosmetics. A bit bored, I wandered over to read the store directory by the elevator and noticed "Chocolate Bar" on the 3rd Floor Atrium.
I drug my friend (now with much younger looking palms) upstairs to see it and have a little break from shopping. We both ordered drinks (hers a hot, spicy cocoa and mine a cold iced chocolate) and I perused the menu of sandwiches, soups and salads when something caught my eye; the Barcelona, a toasted baguette with melted, 71% cacao chocolate, olive oil and sea salt. I knew I had to try it so we ordered one to share. When it arrived looking all ooey-gooey and delicious, I took my first bite.
The combo of the crispness of the baguette crust, the soft bread inside, the fruity smoothness of the olive oil, the slight crunch of the sea salt crystals and the sweet, richness of the chocolate all combined into utter perfection in my mouth. Suddenly, the heavens parted, birds sang and all was right with the world--I kid you not, it really was THAT good!!!
I only wish it photographed as beautifully as it tasted! Before I finished my half (and to be really honest, part of my friend's half too) of this delight for the senses, I knew I would recreate this at home, bite-sized and perfect for the Chocolate themed Blog Party.
To make such simple components turn into bliss, you need to splurge a bit and get quality ingredients. I went with a Green & Blacks Dark 70% Organic Bar, some nice fruity extra virgin olive oil and Fleur de Sel to top my fresh baguette. I decided to cut about 3/4 inch rounds--to make them truly bite sized and call them "Barcelona Bites" in honor of The Chocolate Bar, where I found my new true love.
I decided to pair my bites with a creamy, delicious, Chocolate Pear Martini, (I found the recipe and instructions for the drink here). Pear and chocolate is another flavor combo I love, and I thought it would compliment the Barcelona Bites nicely.
adapted/inspired by Alison Nelson's Chocolate Bar, New York
1 small, fresh, plain baguette cut into 3/4" slices
good quality olive oil--enough to cover surface of baguette slices
1 3.5 oz good quality dark chocolate bar (70-71% cacao)
good sea salt to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place baguette slices on cookie sheet and toast until bread starts to get crisp but not brown (about 4-5 minutes). Meanwhile melt chocolate bar in microwave or in double-boiler, being careful not to burn or overcook.
Remove bread from oven and let cool slightly. Coat the top of each slice lightly with olive oil, carefully put a thin layer of chocolate on each slice (I found a Pyrex measuring cup with a spout worked well for this) and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Garnish with white chocolate shavings if desired. Serve bites while they are still a little warm and the chocolate is nice and "melty".
Serve with Chocolate Pear Martini--following the drink recipe on the link above.
My contribution to the Blog Party menu may not be the most complicated recipe or the most beautiful but it is delicious! I look forward to "seeing" everyone and getting a glimpse of what other chocolate delights await! Look for the round up on Stephanie's site soon!