Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Mystery of the Melted Chocolate

I had a post ready about Alex Cobb's biscuits before I left Toronto. The biscuits are good. So is the post. But it had to pre-empted so that I could bring you the news of my return to Barcelona. I'll write about the biscuits another day.

You will undoubtedly be disappointed to know that I spent my first two days back in Barcelona in bed. Recovering. I'm no longer used to the amount of human contact that I had in Toronto and it left me completely sapped. A little isolation was an apt remedy. So much so that by the third day I was desperately lonely and forced to leave the house in search of someone who would swap a few Spanish phrases with me.

In the end, I wended my way down to Carmelitas (c/ Doctor Dou 4), a very good coffee shop in the Raval. There, I had some bread with chocolate, olive oil and salt, as evidenced by the photo above, and two cups of cafe con leche--that is, one cup too many.

The bread with chocolate was frustrating in its simplicity. Just when I felt like I had the bread, olive oil and salt part down (toast sliced baguette well, brush with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a few grains of coarse sea salt), I found myself confounded by the chocolate. The chocolate pieces were dark and of good quality, about an ounce each. That much was clear. When served, the squares were intact, but spreadable. How did Carmelitas soften the chocolate without it losing its shape? If they just zapped it in the microwave, how did the bread stay crunchy? And if they put it under the broiler, how did the heat not burn the top? Perhaps there was a transfer of sorts, but it did not appear so.

I'm committed to resolving the mystery by trial and error. Somehow, just asking them doesn't seem fair.

In any case, if you can figure it out, it's a simple and deeply satisfying dessert and, I imagine, not a bad breakfast, if you're into that kind of thing.

1 comment:

Diana said...

I soften butter straight from the fridge by placing it in a dish and leaving it NEAR a heat source rather than directly exposing it to one. For instance, if my dish is against the toaster whilst my bread is browning, the butter, whilst retaining its shape, is spreadable once the toast pops. Perhaps Carmelita's employs a similar method con chocolat...?