Recipes

Chocolate, Brie, & Basil Panini Bites

Alright, so I’m gonna warn you right now. After you eat this sandwich, you will dream of having it again every single day.

It has the ideal combination of sweet from the chocolate, salty from the brie, and savoury from the basil and focaccia, and offers a perfectly balanced texture between melty cheese and crunchy bread.

I am just slightly obsessed with this sandwich.

Now I’m not ever one to plagiarize, so I must tell you that this recipe actually belongs to Giada de Laurentiis, a celebrity chef who has inspired my culinary life since I was just a tween. I would spend hours and hours watching Food Network Canada until I had seen every episode a dozen times, and had every celebrity chef tell me their *top tips*, such as that their secret ingredient is always nutmeg (I’m looking at you, Michael Smith). But no matter how cheesy or repetitive those shows could be, they really did influence me on a profound level – and if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a poor student without cable TV, I would definitely still watch them.

You can find the original recipe by Giada here – BUT if you want to kick it with the Curd Nerd 😉 you can read on to find out how to make this epic panini, including how to choose which brie to use.

Speaking of being a poor student, this recipe should traditionally be made on a panini press, but as I do not currently own one, I have made it on the stove, holding a pot lid down on the sandwich in order to give it that pressed effect. You could also make this on the grill to get those classic lines.

Also, apparently this recipe sounds weird to a lot of people. To me, it’s an obvious match – sweet and savoury. But for those of you who are skeptical, take my word for it. Or take my roommate/taste-tester’s word for it – and I quote – “This is life-changing.” And just FYI, chocolate and brie are pretty much always a great match. Often I will have some dark or semisweet chocolate on a cheese board to accompany the rich, salty cheese. It just adds an interesting contrast.

A note about the brie: in this recipe it’s okay to remove the rind if it bothers you. Because the brie is being combined with other ingredients, the nuances of the rind will be lost within the recipe anyway. But on a cheese board or when tasting brie on its own, I highly recommend at least trying the rind before discarding it, since it contains so much flavour! More information on how to taste cheese to come soon under Lessons.

Last note for this recipe: the amounts are estimates, and you can feel free to play around with the ratios to your liking.

Serves: 3-4
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices fresh focaccia bread
  • 150g double cream brie*
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6-7 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

*Which brie to use? Since we’re not going to be able to taste the nuances of the brie in this recipe – rather it’s there to provide rich and salty goodness – I would go for a plain double cream. Nothing fancy.

Directions:

  1. Melt the chocolate. I do this by setting up a double boiler (place a glass or heat-safe bowl on top of a pot of boiling water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water in the pot) over medium heat. Place the chocolate chips in the bowl until they melt, being careful not to let the chocolate burn. Once melted, turn off the heat and set aside. You can also just microwave them (but on a low setting, so that the chocolate doesn’t burn).
  2. While the chocolate chips are melting, slice the brie into 1/4 inch slices.
  3. Slice the basil leaves into thin strips. This way, you don’t end up with an entire basil leaf sliding out of the sandwich in one bite.
  4. Assemble the sandwiches. Begin by spreading half the melted chocolate on one side of the sandwich. Next, place a few strips of basil leaves on top of the chocolate. Then place enough slices of the brie over top the basil to cover the surface of the sandwich, and finally place the another slice of bread to close the sandwich. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Pre-heat your panini press or stove. While waiting, pour the olive oil into a bowl and season it with salt and pepper. Brush each side of the sandwich with the seasoned olive oil before placing them on the grill. If using the stove method, press down on the panini with a pot lid. Cook them until the cheese starts to melt and the crust turns golden brown. If using the stove method, make sure to flip halfway through (approximately 3 minutes each side).
  6. Cut up the sandwiches into bite-sized pieces and serve.

Now you certainly don’t have to cut up this sandwich into bite sized pieces and serve it to three other people. If you’re like me and my roommate, you’ll make this recipe and each have a sandwich to yourself. Nothing wrong with that! But it is very rich, and it is somewhat more of a dessert than a meal, so I often serve it as a snack.

Please let me know your thoughts on this recipe below! It sounds strange to a lot of people at first, but I think I can turn anyone into a brie-liever with this panini.

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