A few months ago, I saw Giada De Laurentiis making a most peculiar sandwich on the Food Network. It involved brie, chocolate chips, basil, and a panini maker. Everything about it seemed wrong, but I couldn’t help being intrigued —  especially when Giada insisted that the sandwich was delicious despite its unconventional ingredients. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to give the chocolate and brie panini a whirl, but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a whole wedge of brie and a bag of chocolate chips for one sandwich experiment. There was something about it that just seemed entirely too indulgent. As a result, I waited around, knowing that eventually, the ingredients would somehow someday find their way into my kitchen.

Luckily, I caught my first big break in early January when a random craving for brownies led to the unexpected procurement of semisweet chocolate chips. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I caved and bought the brie too, and yet, I still heeded my conscience, which repeatedly told me, “No. It’s a strike. You have no income. Don’t buy unnecessary cheese.” I’d like to add that my conscience is a total hypocrite because I’ve bought two videogames, two Cadbury Eggs, and countless other non-essential items since the strike began, but I digress…
Anyway, imagine my joy when while poking around my refrigerator yesterday, I found a pristine, unopened wedge of brie JUST SITTING THERE. I’d like to think it was divine intervention, but my heart told me it was merely a forgotten snack from my Super Bowl party. Either way, the culinary stars had finally aligned, and I knew that at long last my sandwich aspirations would finally come to fruition.
Of course, this wasn’t a perfect scenario. I didn’t have the basil or sourdough necessary to execute the panini exactly as instructed; however, all that really mattered here was the chocolate and brie. That’s all I wanted to try. With great excitement, I turned on my faux Foreman Grill (Hamilton Beach, which is better), but alas, in my jittery state, I had neglected to inspect my cooking equipment. You see, my grill has removable plate (a godsend), and while the top plate was in place, the bottom plate inconceivably was still sitting in the drying rack by the sink. As a result, when I opened up the grill all excited to get this show on the road, I discovered not a teflon-coated surface on which to place my sandwich but instead a bare, menacing heating coil, glaring at me like an angry snake. I was faced with two options: I could turn off the grill, let it cool down, insert the bottom plate, and start over — a process that might take upwards of ten minutes (OR MORE!!!). Or I could brave the elements and dare to insert the bottom plate over the scaldingly hot and active heating coil. Impatience won over practicality. I decided to go in.
With my fingers gingerly grasping the plate by its edges, I carefully slid the component into its required groove. It looked like I was in the clear. All that was left for me was to pull back a small tab and let the plate snap into position. Be steady, B-Side. Steady. Steaaaady… The pressure was too great. I stepped back, exhaled, and tried to calm my harried nerves. One false move and my fingers would burn —  possibly melt right off! At the very least, I’d feel pain for two or three seconds, and those were seconds I wasn’t willing to give up. Nevertheless, I gathered my wits and returned to work. I pressed the little tab back, but two-years-worth of PAM buildup had rendered this bad-boy stubborn to the touch. I tried again, but to no avail. Once more, I said. C’mon, finger. GIVE ME ONE GOOD PUSH. And with that, I poked that tab with unbridled rage, and in the battle of the wills, I emerged the dominant victor. The plate locked into place and the grilling could begin.
Of course, there was the problem of the uneven plate temperatures. The top plate was radiating heat as if it had just been dunked into the heart of Krakatoa. The bottom plate, however, was ice cold. Surely this would not bode well for my sandwich. I suppressed the need for instant gratification and let the bottom plate warm up a bit, but after three-minutes of preheating, I decided enough was enough. I wasn’t going to wait anymore. It was time to make the sandwich. That’s right. After many months and as many mishaps, the chocolate and brie sandwich was on its way to destiny.
Well, everything from that point forward was smooth sailing. There was a minor snafu when an errant chip tumbled out of the sandwich, thus meeting an early, melty demise on the grill, but aside from that, the sandwich came together nicely. I probably could have kept it on the grill a bit longer to ensure a more uniform melting experience, but I had neglected to brush the bread with olive oil per Giada’s recommendation and thus feared it would char up disastrously if left it any longer. Like I said, this was the abridged version of the recipe.
Finally, it was time to taste it. Could two of my favorite ingredients ever co-exist peacefully in the same sandwich? The answer is… yes! I wouldn’t call it a grandslam combo, but the brie and semi-sweet chocolate did mix nicely. It was kind of weird at first, but it was a good weird. If I had a choice, I’d probably pair brie with apples or ham before chocolate, but I certainly wouldn’t deny myself another one of these sandwiches. I’m intrigued now to try the panini in its full form: sourdough, basil, the works. Until then though, I’ll just have to content myself with pictures of this triumphant experiment, and if nothing else, the sights alone were worth the adventure. And oh yes, I decided to make the pictures extra large for maximum salivation.

Melted chocolate. Melted brie. THE BEST.

A nice view of the brie.

I might have to make another one.

For all you looking to try the recipe yourself, click here

15 replies on “ADVENTURES IN GRILLED CHEESE: Giada Experiment Edition”

  1. I would like to add, however, that I love your post confirmation screen. It makes me feel loved. (And now I get two right in a row!)

  2. That looked glorious!
    I don’t know if it’s the picture size or what, but that bite looks big.

  3. I’ve been meaning to go there for quite some time. In fact, I was going to go like three weeks ago, but their stringent 11 – 3 hours always get me in the end.

  4. I have never had a Giada recipe go bad. Ever. Have you seen the episode where she makes the scrambled eggs with orzo, pancetta, smoked mozzarella and like six other ingredients I can’t remember? I think it would make an AMAZING hangover breakfast. Unfortunately, the last thing I feel like doing when I’m hungover is making scrambled eggs with ten ingredients.

  5. Did she make this pre-pregnancy or post? That grossness looks like something only a pregnant woman could love. Yuck!

  6. ha! yes bside, its the new rihanna song =)
    some friends of mine had a band years ago and their little inside joke was to say that when testing the mics before the show.
    looky! the comments worked for me this time! hurrah

  7. B-Side! I think that looks great. I might try it. However, I gave up chocolate for lent so I’ll have to wait until Easter. I have the same hamilton parker grill as you. My husbands co. gives out a catalog at Christmas and that is what we ordered this year. So far it’s been fun to play with.
    I love the fact that you delay your gratification for things (except Cadbury eggs of course).

  8. TEE HEE! I saw this episode and Giada intrigued me, as well. I even recorded it on my DVR to save for making later! YAY! I am glad to hear that someone tried this. Thanks, again B-side, you are the BEST!

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