Serves 6


This recipe recalls for me the chocolate-and-bread sandwiches that sometimes were my lunch, and always a special treat. And it is another inventive way surplus is used in Umbrian cuisine, with leftover country-style bread serving as the foundation of an elegant layered dessert. Although it is soaked with chocolate sauce and buried in whipped cream, the bread doesn’t disintegrate. It serves as a pleasing textural contrast in every heavenly spoonful.


  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Pan of water
  • 8 ounces country-style white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 cup hot chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup almonds, sliced and toasted
Nonna’s Birthday Surprise


Nonna’s Birthday Surprise

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Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl set in a pan of hot (not boiling) water. When the chocolate begins to melt, stir until completely smooth. Keep it warm, over the water, off the heat.

Slice the bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and lay them flat in one layer, close together, on the tray or baking sheet.

Pour the hot chocolate and vanilla into a spouted measuring cup, mix well, and then stir in half the melted chocolate.

Pour the sauce all over the bread slices, then flip them over and turn them on the tray to make sure all the surfaces are coated. Let the bread absorb the sauce for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form, by hand or with an electric mixer.


To Assemble the Parfait:

Break the bread into 1-inch pieces. Use half the pieces to make the bottom parfait layer in the six serving glasses, placing an equal amount of chocolate-y bread into each.

Drop a layer of whipped cream in the glasses, drizzle with some of the melted chocolate, and sprinkle with some toasted almonds.

Repeat the layering sequence: drop more soaked bread into each glass, and drizzle the chocolate sauce from the tray and the remaining melted chocolate over it.

Dollop another layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using it all up, and sprinkle the remaining almonds on top of each parfait. This dessert is best when served immediately while the melted chocolate is still warm and runny.

 Kids Can:

 Measure ingredients; lay out the bread on the baking sheet; pour the sauce all over the bread slices; whip the cream and sugar (though adults should help); break the bread into 1-inch pieces and layer with chocolate sauce and whipped cream in the glasses; and sprinkle the toasted almonds.




Nonna’s Birthday Surprise


Nonna’s Birthday Surprise

buy now