Sugar Rush: Chocolate Bread from Francois Payard Patisserie

Sugar Rush

Your daily dose of something sweet.

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[Photographs: Niko Triantafillou]

When Francois Payard re-opened his venerable Upper East Side patisserie, he swore that apart from a few viennoiserie items, like croissants and pain au chocolate, he would not sell bread. This was in part, because bread specialist Maison Kaiser was set to open directly across the street. And because he was trying to model the shop after a true sit-down French patisserie rather than a bakery. But he never said anything about selling category-defying chocolate bread.

Payard's chocolate bread ($8) is surprisingly light and low in sweetness. You could eat a half-dozen slices and not feel full. It's the polar opposite to say, Breads Bakery's delicious, nutella laden, chocolate babka.

Made with candied orange and 63% cocoa chips, this bread is best eaten plain or lightly toasted with nothing on it. The zest from the candied orange provides a hint of bitter that goes perfectly with the chocolate bits. Because the bread is not heavily laden with butter and the crust is not too thick or well done, I would imagine it could be used to make some killer French Toast.