Thursday, January 1, 2009

Chocolate Bread Pudding

What is that strange, yet somehow alluring picture, you ask? And do I want to eat it or do I want to run away? You want to eat it. Trust me.

I had been accumulating ends and bits of bread over the past few weeks - loaves that were beyond their peak of freshness so we decided to buy more and I held onto the old ones, thinking I'd use them for bread crumbs - only at this point I'd have a lifetime supply of bread crumbs. The only solution was bread pudding - a dessert I associate with my childhood and with England, but which is now becoming increasingly trendy in Los Angeles restaurants; I can only assume the same is happening everywhere.

I wanted to make a bread pudding that was a bit more special, something worthy of serving on new year's eve to my friends, my husband and myself. The only answer had to be chocolate. So I sought out a chocolate bread pudding, and lo and behold, Martha Stewart came to the rescue yet again.

Chocolate Bread Pudding
Adapted from Martha Stewart's New Classics
serves 6-8, depending on generosity of portions


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 or 5 slices, 1/4 inch thick, of leftover, good quality white bread or brioche, crusts removed
3 extra large eggs
2 extra large egg yolks
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups skim or low fat milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cocoa)
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top


1. Spread the softened butter on one side of each slice of bread. Cut the bread slices into thirds or halves, depending how big it is, so each piece is approximately three inches by three inches. You can estimate here, don't get out your ruler.

2. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the cream, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, whisking to combine well.

3. Sprinkle the chocolate over the bottom of a 9-by-9 inch (or equivalent) baking dish. Arrange the bread, buttered side up, with slices overlapping just slightly, on the chocolate. There should just be one layer of bread. Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down with your fingers to make sure the bread soaks it up. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the custard to soak into the bread completely.

4. Take the bread pudding out of the fridge while you preheat the oven to 350. Place the pudding dish into a roasting pan, and pour warm water into the roasting pan (not onto the bread pudding!!) so that the water comes halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until custard is set and bread puffs up slightly.

5. Let cool at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve.

It is incredibly delicious. The chocolate is a beautiful addition to this comforting, french toast-esque dessert. I would recommend getting really good quality chocolate.


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