We've officially declared this Grilled Cheese Week. Why? Mainly because we just really love grilled cheese. To celebrate, we're covering everything from top tips to leveled-up ingredients. Join us for toasty comfort and plenty of melty cheese (and, in this very special case, chocolate).
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If any criticism can be lobbed at grilled cheese — and really, the mind struggles to come up with even one — it might be this: Grilled cheese is not grilled chocolate.
The two sandwiches are siblings. Both feel celebratory. Both are a confluence of crispy and creamy. Both are easy and fast, available at a moment’s notice if you have the ingredients on hand (and you probably do). But only one of them feels revelatory every time you make it — even if, like me, you’ve made it again and again.
The grilled chocolate sandwich felt like my life’s greatest achievement the first night I tried it. I was home alone and craving dessert, specifically something carby; if there was also a creamy element, even better. But I had nothing in the house: no cake, no cookies, not even a half-eaten pint of ice cream in the freezer.
What I did have was bread (as a rule, my house is never without bread). And I had chocolate (ditto). When I sandwiched those two things together, slathered it with butter, and pressed it into a hot cast iron pan, I thought I’d invented the world’s most miraculous food.
Of course, I was just following in the footsteps of other geniuses. Grilled chocolate sandwiches can be found in Italian cafés and in cookbooks by folks such as Alice Medrich, who suggests, brilliantly, to sprinkle the finished product with cinnamon sugar.
But though there is nothing very original about a grilled chocolate sandwich, there’s still something that feels subversive about it. It’s a sandwich — shouldn’t it be filled with egg salad? Or sliced turkey? Or hot, melty cheese?
To distinguish my chocolate sandwiches from their savory counterparts, I at first kept them firmly in the dessert lane. I made them exclusively with enriched breads like challah, brioche, and pain de mie — breads that would be just as at home in a bread pudding. But the grilled chocolate sandwich is, for me, often a dessert of desperation, and eventually I had to make it with the only bread I had on hand: thick slices of sourdough.
It was a revelation. Chocolate plays nicely with the tang and salt and crunch of griddled sourdough. I now prefer it for my chocolate sandwiches, as long as the bread is not too holey (in which case the molten chocolate escapes).
To make the world’s best grilled chocolate (trust me, I really have mastered it), take two 1/2”-thick slices of bread (sourdough preferred) and sandwich them around 1 to 2 ounces (56 grams, or about 1/3 cup) finely chopped or grated chocolate. If you like, add a schmear of jam; 1 to 2 tablespoons of raspberry or another red jam works. Spread softened butter on the outsides of the sandwich and lay it in a small, heavy skillet set over medium-low heat. Cook, occasionally pressing gently with a spatula, until the sandwich is golden and crispy on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. (Low and slow is the game here; if it’s not ready, don’t turn up the heat, just keep cooking and checking.) Flip the sandwich and cook the other side until golden and crispy and the chocolate has melted, 2 to 3 minutes more. Eat immediately, just as you would a grilled cheese.
Check out some of our other tweaks and upgrades to your toasted sandwich routine as part of our Grilled Cheese Week offerings.
Cover photo by Rick Holbrook.