2 servings, 4 toasts
My version of a dessert soup, this isn't thick, but it's very rich and creamy and absolutely delightful for a Valentine's Day dessert--or if you just want something indulgent in cold weather. Because there are so few ingredients, everything you use must be fresh and of the highest quality. Use the best chocolate you can find, as that is the chief flavoring here. This soup should be made just before serving; you can chop the chocolate in advance, however, and the rest of the preparation is so quick and easy (it's done in the microwave) that you'll have no trouble. If you want to serve this with the optional caramel-cinnamon toasts, make the toasts first, then let them stand at room temperature while the soup is prepared. If you don't want to make the toasts, that's fine, too; serve the soup with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, with perhaps a plate of fresh raspberries, strawberries, or orange sections on the side.
I like to use bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for this dessert. I have made it successfully with milk chocolate, but the color tends to be rather light, and there's not enough of a real chocolate "hit" for my taste. A nice touch here is to add a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate-hazelnut spread to the chopped chocolate before you add the hot cream, a trick that lends a distinct mellowness. Alternatively, you can add a tablespoon of a compatible liqueur to the soup, just before you divide it among the bowls. Incidentally, you'll need a 12 ounce bowl for each serving, and it's best if your bowls are white or light-colored.
4 ounces best-quality bittersweet OR
semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Few grains salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
In small microwaveable bowl, combine finely chopped chocolate and salt. In microwave oven on high power, heat milk and cream in two-cup heatproof liquid measure just until simmering. Pour about one-third of this hot liquid (reserve remainder) over the chocolate. Allow to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk gently until smooth. Gradually stir or whisk in remaining milk/cream mixture, blending well. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Reheat soup in microwave at medium (50%) power just until very hot. Divide among bowls. Garnish as desired; serve immediately.
To make without a microwave oven, place chopped chocolate and salt in small heatproof bowl. Heat milk and cream in small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very hot. Proceed as directed above. To heat soup until very hot, place bowl over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl), and stir often until hot. Proceed with hot soup as directed above.
4 slices firm-textured challah
or other white bread, each about
1/2 inch thick, trimmed of crusts
1-1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 Tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
A large pinch or two of ground cinnamon
An additional teaspoon of unsalted butter
If you want to get fancy here, you can cut the trimmed bread slices with a cookie cutter; I use a circle that measures 3-1/2 inches in diameter. If you don't want to use a cutter, that's fine, but your trimmed bread slices shouldn't be larger than about 3-3/4 inches on a side.
In small cup, combine softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. with spoon, cream until well-mixed. Divide evenly among bread slices; spread butter mixture on one side of each slice just to the edges.
I recommend a nonstick griddle or frying pan to cook these; it should be large enough to hold all the slices in a single layer. Melt the teaspoon of butter in your griddle/pan over medium heat. Place bread slices, buttered side up, in the pan. Fry 2 to 3 minutes, or until a light golden brown on the underside (check the slices frequently, and move around in the pan if necessary to promote even browning). During this time, the cinnamon mixture on top of the slices will melt--OK. When slices are browned on bottom, flip each over so that the slices are cinnamon mixture side down. Once in contact with the hot griddle/pan, the cinnamon mixture will soon start to bubble and caramelize. Check the slices often, frying only until they are a light golden brown on the cinnamon mixture side (watch carefully--this can take less than a minute!). As you remove the slices to a cooling rack, turn them over so that the side with the cinnamon mixture is now the top again. Let stand while you prepare the soup.
You can put these on a plate when you remove them from the pan, but if you do the bottoms will become slightly soggy as they stand.