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Bittersweet Chocolate Bread Pudding

Serves: Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf (1 to 1½ pounds) challah, brioche, or other rich, dense bread
  • 1 ¼ cups (14 ounces) whole milk
  • 1 ¼ cups (14 ounces) heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (up to 70 percent cacao), finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1¼ cups (8 ¾ ounces) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Caramel Sauce, and Softly Whipped Cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving


Procedures:

Perhaps the darkest, most intense chocolate bread pudding you've ever experienced, this recipe depends on ½ pound of top-quality chocolate and a long, leisurely soak of custard and bread before baking. For best results, start the day before you want to serve the pudding—the next day, simply slip it into the oven.

To add even more chocolate flavor, stir a cup of milk chocolate or white chocolate chips or chopped bar chocolate into the custard and bread mixture before baking.


Preheat the oven to 325°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly butter the cake pan.

Toast the bread: use the serrated knife to cut away the crust from all sides of the bread. If you are using challah, which is braided, just do the best you can and don't worry about the bits of crust in the crevices of the braid. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on the baking sheet and toast in the oven for 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Measure out 4 cups of bread cubes and place them in the prepared cake pan. Transfer the remaining bread cubes to a resealable plastic bag and set aside (or freeze) for another use.

Make the custard: heat the milk and cream in the medium saucepan over medium heat just until the mixture simmers. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 1 minute, then whisk vigorously to blend the chocolate into the mixture.

Temper the eggs: whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, and salt in the medium bowl to blend thoroughly. Twist a damp kitchen towel into a rope and wrap it around the bottom of the bowl to secure it while you temper the eggs. Pour about ½ cup of the chocolate mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Once blended, whisk in another ½ cup. Then slowly pour the rest of the chocolate mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly.

Soak the bread cubes: pour the custard through the strainer over the bread in the baking dish. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and press down gently so that all the bread cubes are soaked with the custard. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. This gives the bread cubes plenty of time to soak up the chocolate custard, turning them from white to a deep chocolate brown color throughout. Every once in a while, remove the plastic and gently stir the mixture, then return it to the refrigerator.

Bake and serve the bread pudding: preheat the oven to 325°F and position an oven rack in the center. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan and bake the pudding for 60 to 75 minutes, until the center is set. To check, use a spoon to press down firmly in the center of the pan. The pudding is done when the center feels firm and no loose custard bubbles up around the spoon. Transfer to a rack to cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then cut the warm pudding into wedges and serve. Top with a spoonful of whipped cream or ice cream and pour caramel sauce over the top.

Storing: bread pudding is at its best the first day or two, but it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 325°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until heated through.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing

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