Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chocolate With Bread

Go On, Butter Me Up

While it has long been the practice of discerning gourmands to pair chocolate with bread — usually by inserting it into the bread, a la pain au chocolate, or by spreading it onto the bread — it has taken a rather long time for someone (a discerning chocolatier, say) to invert the concept, and put the bread inside the chocolate.

This is exactly what Minnesota chocolatier B. T. McElrath has done with its Buttered Toast Chocolate Bar. Lined up on a shelf of other exotic variations, including the now somewhat pedestrian chili, lavender, blood orange, chai, red peppercorn and even bacon chocolate bars, this one stood out to me for being so down to earth. Among all these bars which sounded like come-ons in a foreign language, this one spoke to me in terms I could understand. It said “come on — you know you want to.”

Brian McElrath describes the bar thusly: “We toast breadcrumbs in pure creamery butter and then drench them in our signature milk chocolate.” That would be 40% milk chocolate, which cuddles up to the rich and sweet side in the chocolate spectrum. It’s a richness that lives on in your chest for some time after you’ve eaten a few rectangles. An inspection of the texture reveals a crumbly, grainy solid, dotted through with tiny air pockets not a whole lot smaller than the toasted sourdough breadcrumbs. If I had an reservations about the success of this venture into comfort food, I would say the crumbs need to be a bit bigger so that they can be detected; here, they simply become part of the overall crumb. What’s the point in foregrounding a special ingredient if it gets lost in the mix? If I likened them to sand in a batch of concrete, that would be a bit mean because the bar is not nearly as bad as all that, but it might give you an idea of their role.

While I’m at it, I would suggest that the appeal of the butteriness of the breadcrumbs could be enhanced by toning down the cocoa butter content, which simply nullifies the whole “creamery butter” aspect. All I end up tasting is butter — when it seems I should also be getting a tang of the fruity sourdough to temper it. The addition of salt to chocolate gives it extra dimension; nothing appear added here.

At 65 cents per rectangle, I’d want this to be more special than a cheapo Nestle Chocolate Crunch bar, but ultimately, that’s what it reminds me of. Next time, I’ll just do it the old-fashioned way — spread some melted chocolate on buttered toast. After all, that’s what I really wanted, I suppose. Also, I’ll tell anyone trying to sweet-talk me by appealing merely to my id to take a hike, or in other words, “vamoose!”

Maker: B.T. McElrath (
Bar: Buttered Toast Chocolate Bar
Size: 3 oz
Price $6.50
Calories: 240 per half bar (44% saturated fat)

Ingredients: Milk chocolate (pure cane sugar, full cream milk, cocoa butter, cacao beans, soya lecithin, vanilla bean), sourdough bread (enriched wheat flour, sea salt, malt, yeast), turbinado sugar, salted butter, natural flavor.

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