With Valentine’s Day arriving tomorrow, images of chocolate-dipped strawberries are everywhere. Appearing all over the internet, in grocery and retail stores, and on special menus in restaurants all over town, their pervasiveness is a constant reminder that the holiday of love is almost upon us.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love chocolate-dipped strawberries as much as the next person. And in previous years, they were definitely a welcome gift.
However, this year, as a newly minted food blogger, I felt the need to challenge myself to come up with a new spin on this classic treat. So, I did. Dear readers, I present to you chocolate ganache and strawberry jam on buttered toast.
Yes, I know. You may have felt a little whipsawed by that description. Chocolate ganache sounds so elegant, so sophisticated, so tres French. And jam, especially high quality jam, can be exquisite. But then I combine those two delectable ingredients with that staple of diner breakfasts everywhere, buttered toast? What must I be thinking?
Please, let me explain.
As we all know, chocolate and strawberries are a combination made in heaven. In my experience, however, finding a decent strawberry in February that is up to the task of partnering with luscious chocolate is challenging to say the least. Strawberries simply taste better when they are in season, which in most places in the U.S. is not February.
So, where did those sentiments leave me? It occurred to me that one way we humans have been able to enjoy perfectly ripe fruit long after its season had ended was in the form of jams, jellies, and other preserves. What if I were to combine a good quality strawberry jam with spreadable dark chocolate and make a sandwich using two slices of wonderfully crusty, chewy rustic bread? Not only would I be getting multiple delicious flavors and textures in a single, easy-to-make package, such a combination of chocolate and strawberries would be something I could make year-round with what essentially are pantry staples.
So, after a bit of thought and some tinkering in the kitchen, I developed my basic recipe.
I started by making a chocolate ganache, which is basically a mixture of melted chocolate and warm cream. I then toasted two slices of buttered bread in a skillet, spread a generous amount of chocolate ganache on one toasted slice and a generous amount of strawberry jam on the other toasted slice, and then put the two slices of bread together with the ganache and jam on the inside. The result was an easy to make but delicious to eat treat.
Move aside chocolate-dipped strawberries. Chocolate ganache and strawberry jam on buttered toast is my new Valentine’s Day tradition!
Chocolate Ganache and Strawberry Jam on Buttered Toast
4 ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces*
½ cup heavy cream
4 slices of good quality rustic bread***
1. Make the chocolate ganache: In a double boiler (TheKitchn has a great description of one here), slowly heat the cream. When the cream is hot to the touch but not boiling, turn off the heat and add the chocolate pieces. Wait a few minutes to allow the chocolate to begin to melt, and then begin to stir vigorously until all of the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. (You may need to turn the heat under the double boiler on again for a minute or two if the cream cools before all of the chocolate has melted.) Remove the pan with the chocolate from the pan with the hot water and set aside.****
2. Make the toast: For each sandwich, spread a thin layer of butter on all sides of two slices of bread. Please both slices in a preheated skillet and let them cook as if you are making a grilled cheese sandwich. When both of the pieces are brown on the bottom, flip them to allow their other sides to brown. When both of the pieces are brown on their other sides, transfer them to a plate and allow to cool slightly.
3. Assemble the sandwiches: For each sandwich, spread a generous layer of chocolate ganache on one piece of toasted bread and a generous layer of strawberry jam on another piece of toasted bread. Fit the two pieces together with the ganache and jam on the inside. Serve immediately.
Note that you will have chocolate ganache left over. You can save whatever you don’t use in the referigerator. When you are ready to use it, reheat it in the microwave at 15-30 second intervals until the ganache has softened. At that point, stir it vigorously to return it to its smooth and glossy state. Be careful not to overheat the ganache or it will burn.
*You can use any type of chocolate you like. I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate.
**You can use other types of jam or marmalade as well. I’m particularly fond of cherry jam and orange marmalade.
***The best bread to use has only about four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. These types of bread tend to be found in independent bakeries, but many supermarkets today are starting to sell better quality breads with a much more limited list of ingredients in their bakery departments. DO NOT use industrialized bread that is found in the middle aisles of the supermarket and comes in long plastic bags with an equal number of identically sized slices. (Yeah, I’m talking about you and your progeny, Wonder Bread.)
****You can use a microwave to melt the chocolate. If you do, just take care not to bring the cream to a boil, which can result in a thicker ganache, or overheat the chocolate once it has been added to the cream, which can cause it to burn or curdle.
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