For a period when I was a teenager, we lived in a house right in front of the beach, with a view looking out towards the South China Sea. Even on the days when we didn't step onto the sandy shore, the saltiness of the sea permeated everywhere. We felt it and tasted it in the air we breathed, in the stickiness of our skin/hair/clothes, whenever we licked our lips. We also saw the destruction it caused, the most memorable of which was the premature aging of my bicycle, my then precious form of transport for explorations around the neighborhood. The salty air had quietly chewed away at the metal, leaving behind a rather sad, rusty frame.
Since then, I've had a 'frenemy' (love-hate) type of relationship with salt. My salt tolerance level is pretty low and I'm often wary of using too much salt in my cooking. On the other hand, very little of it will leave my tastebuds puzzled and yearning. For this month's International Incident Party (theme: Salt), I decided it's time I pay my respects to this most basic of flavorings.
Lately, out of curiosity more than anything else, I seemed to have acquired several different salts to add to my pantry: pink, coarse Himalayan salt (origin: Pakistan), translucent white Anglesey Sea Salt (origin: Wales, UK) and flaky, pink Murray River Salt (origin: Australia). Now, which one to use for this party?
I'm more than a little obsessed by these pretty diamond shapes! Pity they're only salt crystals...
I decided to go with the Anglesey Sea Salt because my recipe is Matcha Grissini coated in dark chocolate, and the white, coarse sea salt would show up well sprinkled against the chocolatey backdrop. Anyone who has ever baked these crisp, Italian breadsticks will tell you they're a breeze to make, but the oriental matcha and decadent chocolate coat probably lends the illusion that it takes many moons to produce (instead of the 2 hours it actually took me). I've also added extra salt and black pepper to the grissini because these are the grown-up version, to tease our palates with their sweetness, saltiness, spiciness and slight bitterness due to the green tea. Kids will equally love to munch on these chocolate breadsticks, just leave out the matcha, black pepper and sea salt.
Eat them as a snack, dip them in hot chocolate or coffee, then sit back and watch the world go by.
Usual thanks to Penny of Jeroxie - Addictive and Consuming Blog for hosting this great party!
Chocolate-Matcha Grissini With Anglesey Sea Salt
Makes about 25 piecesIngredients:
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tblsp salt
1 ½ cup bread flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 tblsp matcha powder
2 tbsp olive oil
¾ to 1 cup warm milk
1 tsp crushed black pepper
300g dark chocolate, melted
Anglesey Sea Salt, for sprinkling
1. Put the flours, matcha, yeast, sugar, black pepper, salt, olive oil and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm milk slowly, you may need only slightly less than a cup. With a dough attachment, mix until the mixture becomes a soft and elastic dough. The dough can then be kneaded by hand, it should be smooth and slightly moist, but not sticky.
2. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
3. Divide the dough into two. Take one piece and roll out into a thin rectangle (about 1/4 of an inch high). Using a pizza cutter cut the dough lengthwise into strips which are approximately 1/3-inch and 10-inch long. Do the same with the remaining piece of dough.
4. Twist each strip from both ends and place the strips on a greased or lined baking tray. Allow them to slightly puff up (about 10 to 15 minutes). Bake the grissini at 210C for about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack before coating with chocolate.
5. For the chocolate glaze: Chop the chocolate into 1/2 inch chunks and melt in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour the melted chocolate onto a flat platter and proceed to dip and roll the grissini in it. Work quickly as the chocolate will harden halfway through this coating process. If it does, just warm it on medium heat in the microwave.
6. Sprinkle the sea salt on the chocolate-covered part of the grissini while it is still moist. Place grissini to dry on waxed baking paper. Serve immediately or else, store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days.