You could say that the theme of this week’s posts is “Yummy dishes made with leftovers from your fridge.” It wasn’t intentional – it just worked out that way. Earlier this week, there were turkey empanadas to use up any leftover turkey you might still have lingering around. Today, it’s dessert in the form of chocolate bread pudding. Being able to use leftover bread to make something as delicious as bread pudding is good – adding chocolate to it is really, really good.
I have had a half loaf of Challah sitting at the back of my refrigerator for the last two weeks. It was getting to the point where I needed to do something with it or just it throw away. It felt like such a waste to throw out good Challah. Fortunately, I remembered I had a chocolate bread pudding recipe I have been wanting to share. As a bonus, this recipe also let me use the extra cream and egg yolks left over from all the cooking and baking we did for Thanksgiving last week. I am not exactly sure what my husband made that left us with so many egg yolks but I was happy to find a use for them.
Making bread pudding is really pretty easy. First, you cut up your bread. Then, you make a rich chocolatey custard that gets poured over the bread pieces. Toss everything together and let the bread sit in the custard mixture for awhile to make sure it all gets nice and soaked through. Then you bake it and enjoy. The hardest part is baking the pudding in a hot water bath. This just means the baking dish is set into a larger pan that is half filled with hot water. This may seem like an unecessary step but the hot water bath ensures that the pudding won’t dry out and the eggs in the custard won’t curdle. My 10×6 1/2-inch casserole dish fits nicely inside my 9×13-inch Pyrex baking dish for this purpose. I use a tea pot filled with hot water to pour water into the outer baking pan. Depending on what pans you end up using for your pudding, you may find it easier to add the water after you have put the pans on the oven rack rather than carrying a pan of hot water across your kitchen to the oven. Once the pudding is done baking, you may want to remove the baking pan from the oven, leaving the outer pan with hot water in the oven to cool. I don’t have to carry my pans very far so I end up just carrying the pans of pudding and hot water to and from the oven. Either option will work, you just want to think your strategy through before adding the hot water.
As rich and decadent as this chocolate bread pudding looks, it is surprisingly light. I am not talking low-calorie light just it doesn’t make you feel like you never want to eat again light. After all, there is still lots of good eating to be done this holiday season and you want to be able to enjoy it all.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped
- 6 cups cubed Challah or brioche bread, about 1/2 of a large loaf (see Notes)
- 4 large eggs yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- Sweetened whipped cream, for serving
- Chocolate shavings, for serving (see Notes)
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the cream, milk, vanilla seeds and vanilla bean pod in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover the saucepan with lid, and let sit for 30 minutes to infuse flavors.
- Meanwhile, fill an 8×8-inch square or 10×6 1/2-inch rectangular baking dish with the bread cubes.
- After 30 minutes, return the milk mixture to a boil, remove from heat, and discard vanilla bean pod. Add chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl, whisking to combine. Whisk one cup of the chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs. Pour remaining chocolate mixture very slowly into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until fully combined.
- Slowly pour the chocolate mixture over all the bread. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the bread mixture to ensure that all of the bread pieces are completely soaked. Allow bread mixture to sit for 30 minutes.
- Place baking dish in a larger pan; fill outer pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the baking dish (I use a tea pot filled with hot water to do this). Bake until pudding is set, about 35 minutes. Carefully remove the pans from the oven and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
- Cut bread pudding into 6 servings and serve warm, garnished with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
To make the cubes, cut the bread into 1/2-inch slices, then cut again into 1/2-inch cubes.
To make chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler and scrape the blade lengthwise across a block of chocolate.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living, January 2001.