23 October 2009

Videos and Recipes: Italy's Chocolate Bread Parfait, Chocolate Caramel Banana Upside Down Cake, Chocolate Coconut Bread

From Denny: Once you have seen the video, you see how beautiful that bread looks soaked in chocolate to the point you might think it started off as chocolate bread, wow! Another winner of an easy recipe from Lidia!

*** Note: I have the pasta recipes on this video parked over at another food blog: Unusual 2 Tasty, go here.

Chocolate bread parfait (pane di cioccolato al cucchiaio)

Chef shares authentic, regional tastes of Italy in her new cookbook

From: "Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy" by Lidia Bastianich
Makes: 6 servings

This recalls for me the chocolate-and-bread sandwiches that sometimes were my lunch, and always a special treat. And it is another inventive way surplus is used in Umbrian cuisine, with leftover country bread serving as the foundation of an elegant layered dessert. Though it is soaked with chocolate and espresso sauce and buried in whipped cream, the bread doesn’t disintegrate, and provides a pleasing textural contrast in every heavenly spoonful.


• 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 8 ounces country-style white bread, crusts removed
• 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso
• 2 tablespoons dark rum
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
• 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted


Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl set in a pan of hot (not boiling) water. When the chocolate begins to melt, stir until completely smooth. Keep it warm, over the water, off the heat.

Slice the bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and lay them flat in one layer, close together, on the tray or baking sheet.

Pour the warm espresso into a spouted measuring cup, stir in the rum and sugar until sugar dissolves, then stir in half the melted chocolate. Pour the sauce all over the bread slices, then flip them over and turn them on the tray, to make sure all the surfaces are coated. Let the bread absorb the sauce for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the cream until soft peaks form, by hand or with an electric mixer.

To assemble the parfaits: Break the bread into 1-inch pieces. Use half the pieces to make the bottom parfait layer in the six serving glasses, dropping an equal amount of chocolatey bread into each. Scrape up some of the unabsorbed chocolate sauce that remains on the baking sheet, and drizzle a bit over the bread layers. Next, drop a layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using up half the cream. Top the cream layer with toasted almonds, using half the nuts.

Repeat the layering sequence: Drop more soaked bread into each glass, drizzle over it the chocolate sauce from the tray and the remaining melted chocolate. Dollop another layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using it all up, and sprinkle the remaining almonds on top of each parfait.

This dessert is best when served immediately while the melted chocolate is still warm and runny.

From Denny: Upside down cakes are so ridiculously easy they are a great introduction for beginner bakers or kids to enjoy success! With autumn here, caramel comes to mind and this is the first recipe I've seen combining the favorite tastes of many into an easy upside down cake. Give it a try in your home this cold weather season!

Chocolate-caramel-banana upside-down cake

From: "Cake Keeper Cakes" by Lauren Chattman
Makes: 8 servings



• 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 3⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 3 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices


• 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
• 6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
• 3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
• 6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2⁄3 cup buttermilk



1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch round nonstick pan and dust with flour.

2. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Whisk in the brown sugar, turn the heat to low, and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the banana slices in concentric circles on top of the sugar mixture. Set aside.


1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

2. Combine the butter and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat until the mixture is light and increased in volume, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.

4. With the mixer on low, stir in 1⁄3 of the flour mixture. Stir in 1⁄2 of the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the batter on high speed for 30 seconds.

5. Pour the batter over the bananas, gently spreading it into an even layer.

6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes. Holding the pan and a plate together with oven mitts, immediately invert the hot cake onto the plate. If necessary, replace any fruit stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Let the cake cool for 20 minutes and serve warm, or serve at room temperature.


Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper, or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

From Denny: I've always loved to bake bread in the cold winter months. The smell of baking bread wafting through the house is nothing short of heavenly! Surely, Heaven must smell like warm chocolate chip cookies and baking bread... :)

It's a great video but they never put up the recipe online. (Makes you want to growl a perfectly intoned unhappy grrrr...) If you already know how to bake sweet bread, just add the chocolate chunks and fresh shaved coconut. But, hey! The video ends up looking like funny slapstick, unintentionally, as the news crew was getting punchy at the end of their day, so I put it up here. Also, you get a chance to see the finished product and see if you want to purchase the baker's new cookbook with the recipe in it. Either way, it's still informative and entertaining!

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