Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chocolate: the Wonder Drug

I am pretty sure that there is nothing that cannot be solved with chocolate. I think the Cold War could have ended decades earlier if there was hot and cold running fudge at the UN. I think Bush and Gore could have resolved hanging chads over good brownies. I think peace in the Middle East would be a hell of a lot easier if everybody's mouths were full of Hershey bars.

The endorphins, the brain chemistry, the antioxidants...there's just no downside. And that's before you even get to the taste.

When my friends and I were pregnant, and in those early days of being a mom, when colic made you question reality and sleep-starved brains warred with hormones that flucuated like the Dow Jones, chocolate was a necessary tool of our lives. We circulated a desperation treat for those late-night cocoa calls, a chocolate cake that mixed in a mug and baked in the microwave. It filled a hole, but it wasn't really...satisfying.

But chocolate doesn't have to be as complicated as the chemistry of cakes and cookies. A chocolate pizza is ridiculously easy, with just four (or five) ingredients that are probably in your kitchen right now.

This last-minute dessert is as elegant as French pastry because, well, that's kind of what it is. It's really a variation on pain au chocolate, or chocolate bread. You've probably seen it in a snooty bakery as chocolate croissants, with buttery dough rolled  around semisweet chocolate.

My version starts with something that is almost always in my refrigerator. Crescent roll dough. I've made it with pizza crust, bread dough, puff pastry, pie crust, pate a choux, etc., but crescent roll is really my favorite. First, it's buttery, and second, it's crazy convenient. Just unroll, press out in your pan, and you're ready to go.

Pretty? Oh, it's just dough, people. It's not art. Yet. That's why we spread on a little butter and sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of sugar. Throw it in the oven at 400 degrees until it's golden brown. Kind of like this.

Better already, isnt' it? Just wait. Next, you take some chocolate chips. I use about 6 ounces. Unless it's been a bad day. Or it's a day that ends in Y. Have the chips ready to go when you pull the crust out of the oven. Dump them on. Let them melt. (You can turn off the oven and just set the baking pan back in to hasten melting if you wnat. Just make sure you only do it for a few minutes. Good chocolate is a terrible thing to burn.)

Holy melted chocolate. Now, you can let this sit just the way it is. Or you can spread it. I prefer to let it retain its organic chippiness, but that's up to you. This is also a good time to point out that you can go with milk chips. Or white chips. Or any kind of chips, mixed and matched.

And that's it. You're done. It's delicious. It's simple. There's no way to make it better.

Unless you go one more step. With melted chocolate, you can throw on all kinds of fantasticness. My personal preference? Peanut butter. Melt a couple tablespoons in the microwave and drizzle over the whole thing. But you can also do chopped nuts, or crushed toffee, or raisins, or marshmallows, or leftover candy canes beaten within an inch of their lives, or...well, you get the idea.

Isn't that the best thing you've ever seen?

What? You don't have crescent roll dough...or any of the other options I mentioned? I've got a secret. A delcious secret. A friend makes the absolute most sought after treat at our local Chocolate Festival every year. People beat down the doors for his grilled pain au chocolate. Doesn't that sounds fancy? It's not. It is, pure and simple, a grilled chocolate sandwich. White bread, filled with chocolate (he uses Hershey bars), buttered and griddled like every grilled cheese sandwich you've ever had. Do NOT tell your children. They'll never eat a normal lunch again.


  1. Looks delicious!! Can't wait to try it!

  2. Looks good! I am imaging the chocolate and PB on yogurt though! Mmmmmmm

  3. Thanks, Jenn! Love your blog, and I'm so glad you visited mine! Hope you come back often.