Chocolate Bread Pudding
I've been exploring the world of bread puddings (see box) for the last few months and so when I needed a dessert for dinner a few nights ago with our friends Kit and Carrie I naturally went to the bread drawer to see what sort of stale goodies might be available. I found half of the loaf of a nice black pumpernickel that I bought five or six days previously for the Graveblue Sandwiches so decided to use that.
Bread Pudding Madness!
Here are some more of my recent bread pudding posts:
• Pear Bread Pudding with Blueberry Caramel
• Ginger Pumpkin Bread Pudding
• Tomato Bread Pudding I
• Roasted Tomato Bread Pudding
I had in mind a regular bread pudding, with cinnamon and raisins, but as I was assembling the ramkins full of bread I thought that since it looked like a chocolate dessert it ought to actually be a chocolate dessert. It wasn't too big a stretch to convert the recipe (I just added chocolate and upped the cognac quantity a little).
The result was extremely good. It seemed more chocolatey that it should have considering the small amount of actual chocolate I used, which was probably because of the naturally chocolatey flavor of black bread. It's possible that the bread had chocolate in it...some black breads I've made have included chocolate. Anyway, this was a chocaholic's delight.
Kit also pointed out something that I hadn't really focused on before: the technique of making the pudding from sticks of bread, with the crust end up -- which I developed purely for visual styling reasons -- in fact adds a lot to the pleasure of the dessert. The crust ends, most of which stick up above the custard level during the baking, become quite crisp and crunchy, which is extremely pleasing when combined in the mouth with the soft, smooth custardy lower part.
Chocolatey, crunchy, custardy -- however you look at it, this one's a keeper.
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Makes 4 servings.
1/2 loaf day-old pumpernickel bread
1/2 C milk
1/2 C cream
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cognac
3 T raisins
Cut bread into sticks 1/4" x 1/4" x approx 1-1/2", leaving crust on one end of each piece. Stand bread sticks in 4 buttered ramekins, crust ends up. There may be bread left over. (Don't pack the bread too tightly -- there should be just enough so that the sticks stand up on their own. ) Melt the chocolate and mix with the sugar and the milk. Add the cinnamon, vanilla, and cognac. Beat eggs quickly with a fork and slowly add the milk mixture to them, stirring constantly.
Spoon mixture into ramekins, stirring it now and then to be sure all ingredients are well distributed. Scatter on the raisins. Let puddings rest for 30 - 40 minutes, up to several hours, refrigerated. Bake about 45 minutes in preheated 350º oven in a boiling water bath to cover bottom half of ramekins. Tester should come out more-or-less dry.
Allow to cool 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge and then unmold. Serve immediately, with vanilla ice cream or other toppings as desired.
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