Where a North American after-school snack might be a glass of milk and cookies, the French goûter is often a pain au chocolat. Sometimes, Dorie Greenspan says in her new cookbook “Around My French Table” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) it might even be an open-faced chocolate sandwich.

This may seem ridiculous to Canadians, and Americans, but it’s not unusual in Europe where Nutella is as popular as peanut butter is here. Even in the Netherlands, my good friend Elsbeth served me chocolate shavings on toast for breakfast when I stayed with her in Utrecht. This recipe is French pastry chef Pierre Hermé’s interpretation of the after-school treat (you may know him as the master of macarons).

I still need to review Greenspan’s book, which came to me via the good people at Thomas Allen, but in the meantime I am imploring you to make this, eat this, even if you make nothing else off my blog.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup Nutella
  • 4 slices Brioche or challah
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup bitter orange marmalade
  • Fleur de sel
  • Hazelnuts, toasted, loose skins rubbed off in a towel, and coarsely chopped, for topping

Directions:

Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet (or the broiler pan) with aluminum foil.

Put the Nutella in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and heat, stirring frequently, just until it is softened and warm.

Brush one side of each slice of bread with melted butter, and put the bread, buttered side up, on the baking sheet. Run the bread under the broiler; pull it out when the slices are golden.

Spread the marmalade over the hot bread and then, using the tines of a fork, generously drizzle each tartine with some warm Nutella. Top with a few grains of fleur de sel and some chopped hazelnuts.

Substitutions:
I had a generic hazelnut spread, but it comes nowhere near the consistency nor the taste of Nutella. So don’t buy the cheaper stuff just to save a couple of bucks. I used Greaves orange marmalade, and I was quite happy with the result.

The recipe calls for a bitter orange marmalade, but I find some marmalades verge on too bitter. This one was just right. The brioche I used was my own brioche, which I made following Ina Garten’s recipe (see my previous blog post here). Do not, under any circumstances, skip the fleur de sel. This is what makes this recipe. And please, if you don’t have any fleur de sel, don’t use table salt.

Would I make this again?
Any chance I get. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Are you getting the picture? I am slightly enthusiastic about this recipe. It is buttery, decadent, crunchy, smooth, everything you could hope to ask for in a dessert. It takes one of my childhood favourites, Nutella on toast, and puts a sophisticated spin on it. How could Nutella on toast be sophisticated? Believe me, I even considered serving this to some company who were going to come over for dinner.

Grade: Five stars out of five. No question. This recipe was a revelation. I can’t stress this enough. Some of my readers won’t be shocked at the salty-sweet pairing, but some of you will find it unusual. Let this be your introduction to that flavour combination, you won’t be sorry. 

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