In the Sandwich Hall of Fame, the grilled cheese is prominently displayed. It’s the culinary equivalent of a one-name cultural phenomenon such as Rihanna or Bono; the lunchtime staple requires no “sandwich” descriptor for people to know exactly what it is. Still, there’s always an opportunity to shake things up – to pay homage to a classic by completely rethinking it. What’s great about a grilled cheese is the filling: the oozy, creamy center encased between crisply toasted, buttery bread slices. Food writer Charlotte Druckman opted to sub in chocolate. Druckman isn’t the first to put chocolate between bread and call it a sandwich. It’s been a longtime favorite snack of children in Spain. Star chef and humanitarian hero José Andrés has popularized a dish of fancy chocolate on grilled bread drizzled with olive oil. Inspired by him, Druckman arrived at her version, which is featured in her smart, new “Kitchen Remix: 75 Recipes for Making the Most of Your Ingredients” (Penguin Random House; $28). In her book, Druckman encourages readers to imagine multiple scenarios for products they have on hand. She groups ingredients into complementary trios: Chicken breast, mozzarella and arugula are configured as a chicken salad, as cutlets with marinated mozzarella, and as potato-crusted breasts with arugula pesto. It’s a book that’s geared for people who ordered large batches of ingredients and are now stuck in a potential “Groundhog Day” scenario, eating the same thing every night. “It’s hard to teach resourcefulness,” Druckman says. “But this book is helpful for people who are looking at what’s in their fridge and thinking, ‘Isn’t there something else I can do?’ “ For her pairing of bread, chocolate and olive oil, Druckman offers recipes for a bread pudding, a semifreddo, to which she adds a brown sugar mayonnaise that creates a caramelized crust on the pan-fried bread and adds sweetness to the bittersweet chocolate filling, especially with a sprinkle of salt. “Since mayo is basically olive oil and egg, it’s like giving the bread French toast treatment,” Druckman says. Her recipe is open to innovation. You can use brioche or sourdough instead of white bread; a pinch of cinnamon accents the chocolate; cayenne adds intriguing heat. A little grated orange zest makes it fruity, as does a spread of marmalade. There’s the option of almond butter instead of the classic unsalted. If you have a jar of Nutella handy, sub it for the chocolate. “There are lots of choices,” Druckman says of her new classic. The following recipe is adapted from “Kitchen Remix.” It’s a bit messy on your work surface but worth the cleanup.
Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches
¼ cup mayonnaise ½ tablespoon packed light brown sugar 8 (½-inch-thick) slices sturdy white bread
About 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate baking disks (about ¾ cup) Flaky salt
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and brown sugar. Arrange the bread slices on a work surface and spread the tops with the sweetened mayonnaise, to coat. Flip the slices over and brush the other sides with olive oil. Divide the chocolate among four bread slices, drizzle with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cover the four chocolate-topped bread slices with the remaining slices, oil side down. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Place two of the sandwiches in the hot skillet and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and caramelized, from 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the sandwiches and cook until the second sides are golden brown and the chocolate is melted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the finished sandwiches to a plate, wipe the pan clean and cook the remaining sandwiches the same way. Let the sandwiches cool for a couple of minutes before cutting them in half and serving hot. Yield: 4 servings
Grilled chocolate sandwiches are a bit messy on your work surface but worth the cleanup.
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