Friday, October 22, 2010

Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding

What to do with a loaf of challah bread? If asked that question, the first two things that come to my head are french toast and bread pudding. Maybe I need to expand..but I am happy with these options since I don't tend to make them too too often. That was until this school year started... I now have a loaf of challah bread coming home with my son every three weeks from his school. Whew! Need to get creative here! So far I have only had one loaf to deal with and since I had company over for dinner the day I received my challah I decided to share (aka not get stuck with a loaf of bread to nosh on!).

Not everyone loves bread pudding. I happen to think it's pretty great. If you have a basic recipe for bread pudding you can pretty much add anything to it that you like. Nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, chocolate can all make a really delicious dessert. On this particular night I knew my guests were dark chocolate lovers so that's the route I went. I didn't need to look far for a recipe. I have watched enough Food Network to know that my girl, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) has made a few bread puddings in her day. The recipe I based this one off of was for rum raisin, but I ended up transforming mine into a dark chocolate version. This recipe is just a jumping off point. You can add more chocolate than I did, use different bread ( I think Ina's recipe originally calls for croissants), or add some nuts to the mix. Whatever you fancy!

Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
Serves 8-10

Adapted out of "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook", Croissant bread pudding

3 extra-large eggs (Ina always uses extra-large eggs. So do I. I don't question greatness.)
8 extra-large egg yolks (after this rich dessert, won't it feel good to wake up in the morning and make yourself an egg-white omelet??)
5 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 loaf challah bread, sliced or cubed or torn
1 cup (or more) dark chocolate chips (I like Guittard's Extra Dark Chocolate Chips which are 63% cacao)

Preheat the oven to 350

Whisk together the eggs, half and half, sugar and vanilla. In a baking dish (about 2 1/2- 3 quarts or whatever will hold all the bread and liquid) place a layer of the bread, top with chocolate chips, then top with the rest of the bread. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and allow to soak in for at least 10 minutes (I let it sit for about an hour), pressing down to get the bread to absorb the liquid.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with about an inch of hot water. Cover the entire thing with aluminum foil, making sure that the foil doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a couple holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 40-45 minutes, until it is puffed and custard is set. Allow to cool a bit before serving. Really good with a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!

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