Impress-Your-Guests Chocolate Bread Pudding
Before I knew better, pudding was something that came in either little 4-pack containers or in a powder packet inside a box. That was until I tried bread pudding. The savory-sweet combination of warm, eggy bread pieces infused with cinnamon and butter gave the dish a feeling of dessert French toast. Then I stumbled across a recipe for bread pudding that added another layer of flavor—chocolate—and I was hooked. Toss in some walnuts and that’s a perfect dessert (I like anything with walnuts in it).
Making bread pudding is easy. Plus, you can use up any of the bread that you might have lying around, getting dried out to make this recipe (the more dried out, the better). While you can serve this dish warm to guests, I like to bake it ahead of time and serve it chilled. The chocolate flavor gets more intense once the bread has had time to fully soak in the flavors.
The chocolate bread pudding works best with a heartier white bread. This is one of the few times I wouldn’t suggest going the whole wheat route. Even doing a half-and-half combo yields a too-chewy pudding (trust me, I’ve tried it). I like using my own baked bread for this recipe (or if I don’t have any handy, I opt for buttermilk bread from the store).
There’s a few ways that you can bake the bread pudding. To really impress guests, I’ll often make individual portions. I divide the batter equally into 6, 7-ounce ramekins and serve the dessert in the dish with fresh whipped cream on top dusted with a little cocoa powder. If I’m in a hurry, I bake the batter in a 9-inch springform pan or even an 8-inch square baking dish. Either way, I’d recommend keeping your slices small—this is one rich dish.
I like to dress up my plate to make the dessert look restaurant-worthy–it’s so simple and fun to do anyway. First, I use a large-sized plate (I bought mine at IKEA) then I use chocolate syrup (Hershey’s is fine; it’s not for the taste, it’s for the wow factor) to create a design on the plate. Then, I put a slice of chocolate bread pudding in the center, top it with fresh whipped cream (again, dusted with cocoa powder). I like to add fresh fruit too—raspberries, strawberries, mangoes.
Chocolate Bread Pudding Recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes (plus time to dry out bread)
Cook time: 1 hour
2 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ loaves white bread
2 teaspoons Espresso powder (optional)
Cut your bread into 1 to 1/2 –inch cubes. Spread out the cubes on a large cookie baking sheet. Let the cubes dry out for a day or two. Alternatively, you can dry out the cubes in about an hour by putting them in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once your cubes are ready, it’s time to start getting the rest of your ingredients prepped. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large glass mixing bowl or measuring cup melt the chocolate, butter and sugar together in the microwave. Set the microwave for 1 minute at half power and then stir the mixture until smooth. If the chocolate is still not melted, put it back into the microwave for another 20 to 30 seconds at half power.
Let the chocolate mixture cool while you prepare the other ingredients. In a large mixing bowl whip together the eggs, milk, vanilla, salt, and Espresso powder (you can also use cocoa powder). Add the bread cubes into the egg mixture and carefully stir the bread into the milk with a wooden spoon. Fold the ingredients together until the bread looks like it’s soaked in most of the liquid. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the soaked bread cubes. Do not over stir!
Use cooking spray to coat your baking dish. Pour the batter into the dish and bake for 1 hour. Start checking the bread pudding at about 45 minutes into baking. The top will appear shiny and should be firm to the touch. Allow the dish to cool at least 10 to 15 minutes before serving.