brie, basil, chocolate

I haven’t had a ton of time to post lately, and I’ve had even less time to cook. The good news is that I still have plenty of quick-and-easy recipes in my stable for times such as these, and the brie, basil and chocolate panini is one of my favorites. Sounds strange, right? I thought so, too, but trust me on this.

Although I’ve grown to love brie (especially melted on sandwiches), it’s not something I buy a lot because of the price; however, I recently found a sale on a 13.2-ounce wheel of Aloutte Baby Brie — $5! — and I couldn’t pass it up. The container lasted forever, despite the incessant slice stealing every time I went in the fridge.

As is usually the case with my makeshift panini, I busted out my Foreman Grill, and it did not let me down. My sweet little sandwich was ready in three minutes flat, and it delivered a beautifully crisp outside and ooey-gooey insides. (A heads up on the cleanup: Brie melts at the same speedy rate as American cheese, which, if you recall, was a lesson I learned over the winter.)

The soft cheese and basil are a perfect match, and the chocolate adds just a bit of sweetness without taking it into dessertland. After I tried this for the first time, I literally ate it for lunch the following three days. It’s that good.

Makes 1 sandwich
♦1 hard roll, or two slices of thick panini bread
Brie cheese, sliced to your liking
4 or 5 average-size basil leaves, cleaned
8 to 12 chocolate chips (could use semi-sweet or dark)
Olive oil

Slice brie to desired thickness and cover one side of bread. Add basil leaves on top of cheese, then add chocolate chips. Close sandwich, and paint light layer of olive oil on both sides. Grill on Foreman or panini press, or cook in frying pan.

Total time? 7 minutes.
Cost? $5 Baby Brie (on sale), $2 basil (for way more than needed), $1.50 chocolate chips (again, way more than needed), 65¢ roll.
Overall success relative to expect? 10 out of 10. I was not prepared for how much I ended up loving this sandwich. I just thought it was a offbeat panini idea that I’d try once and find something else to do with the unused basil and brie after the fact. Quite the opposite. Just make sure you keep a napkin or two handy while eating; my face was covered in chocolate after a few bites through the center. Totally worth it, though. To-tal-ly-worth-it.


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