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JANUARY 2000
RECIPES

Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownies

Chocolate Tapioca

Banana-Chip Cheesecake

Chocolate Bread Pudding



Sweet Spot

 


Chocolate Bread Pudding

Tips: A perfect cold-weather food, chocolate bread pudding is old-fashioned and comforting, whether you serve it warm (not hot) or cold. If you serve it warm, a good vanilla ice cream is an ideal accompaniment, or substitute creme anglaise or lightly sweetened whipped cream. Fresh raspberries would be lovely with this, too. This recipe will give you a not too sweet result with plenty of chocolate flavor. The slightly dryer, crusty top layer of this pudding yields to a more custardy bottom, making for some textural contrast.

My favorite bread for making this is a good challah, but that's hard to find where I live, so I often end up using a good-quality, firm-textured white bread. Whole grain bread, which I usually adore, isn't just the thing here. In any case, you'll need about 20 to 24 ounces of bread (before trimming the crusts). If your bread isn't a little stale, trim the crusts, cut and measure the bread as directed, and leave at room temperature for 4 to 8 hours before using, in a single layer on a large baking sheet (very loosely covered).

Ingredients:

  • 6 packed cups of 1 inch cubes of slightly stale bread, trimmed of crusts
  • 4 squares (4 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sifted or strained unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 eggs, graded "large" plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla

Butter a 1-1/2 liter souffle dish (mine is white porcelain and measures 7-1/2 inches top diameter by just under 3-3/4 inches high) or casserole. Have ready a metal baking pan that is longer, wider, and shallower than your dish, and into which the dish will fit without touching the sides (I use a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking pan). If this larger pan is aluminum, sprinkle about a teaspoon of cream of tartar into the bottom so it won't discolor during baking. Cut a circle of foil about an inch larger all around than the top of the souffle dish. Place the slightly stale bread cubes into the buttered souffle dish, compacting them as necessary to make them fit in (the dish will be very full--OK). Set all aside.

In small heatproof bowl, place chopped chocolate. In small saucepan, heat cream over low heat until very hot, stirring occasionally. Add about two-thirds of hot cream to chocolate. Place bowl of chocolate over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl); stir or whisk often until chocolate is melted. Gradually stir or whisk remaining cream into melted chocolate mixture. Remove from heat and hot water.

In 2 quart, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pot, combine sugars, cocoa powder, and salt. With large spoon, mix thoroughly, pressing out any lumps with back of spoon. Add eggs and yolk; beat in. Stir in melted chocolate mixture, which will still be warm. In small saucepan over low heat, heat milk until very hot, stirring occasionally. Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture, stirring constantly. Place pot over low heat; stir constantly for 3 minutes. During this time, egg-milk mixture will not thicken or become hot--OK. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Gradually and slowly spoon egg-milk mixture into bread, using a large spoon or a small ladle. The idea here is to saturate as many bread cubes as possible. Take your time doing this. When done, set the bread pudding aside for 15 minutes.

During this time, adjust rack to center of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bring to a boil enough water to fill your larger, shallower baking pan to a depth of one inch. After 15 minutes, place larger, shallower metal pan on oven rack; cover bottom with a thin film of boiling water. Carefully place dish with bread pudding into water. Cover with foil circle, gently folding excess foil down over sides of dish. Carefully add enough boiling water to the metal pan to obtain a one inch depth. Close oven door.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil from top of dish; bake 10 minutes longer. To test for doneness, stick a sharp knife into center of bread pudding about halfway down, then remove. Knife will emerge only partly clean; the blade should still have a smear of custard on it. Using good potholders, CAREFULLY remove souffle dish from pan of water. WATCH YOUR HANDS!!! The souffle dish will be heavy, hot, and slippery.

Allow pudding to stand at room temperature 30 to 40 minutes before serving, or chill and serve cold. Eat within two days of making.

6 to 8 servings


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