Saturday, February 15, 2014

Birthday bread pudding

Like I mentioned in my earlier post, Joey told me he wanted bread pudding for his birthday dessert. And it had to have chocolate in it. After prodding him a bit to get some more information, I decided to make one that had a pumpkin custard base, and lots of dark chocolate chips. When we went out to the store (once we finally got my car dug out of the snow), I expected to pick up a loaf of challah or brioche. Instead, he found a raisin-studded country loaf that was delicious (it made the best toast this morning). I was surprised he would want raisins in it, but decided to go with it.

I found a recipe by Michael Symon, but it had a whole stick of butter in it! That's not something I usually see in bread pudding, so I kept looking. I ended up finding a recipe that was a modified version of his, and then just took some parts of both. This was such a good bread pudding. It was really creamy and decadent, with tons and tons of chocolate! We topped it with (store-bought) vanilla bean gelato, and it was just perfect.

Pumpkin chocolate bread pudding
Adapted from Michael Symon and Soup Addict

6 cups day-old bread in 1/2 to 1 inch squares (I used about 2/3 of a 20 oz loaf of bread) - stale is best
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
3/4 cup half and half
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
pinch of salt
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I probably used at least 2)
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 325 F. If your bread is still really soft, toast it for 5-10 minutes. You want it to dry out slightly, but you don't want it to brown or become croutons. Let cool slightly.

Mix together the milk, half and half, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Try to incorporate the pumpkin pie spice, so you don't have big clumps of it.

Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan really well, with cooking spray or butter. Make sure to get the sides. Put half of the bread cubes in the pan, trying to get them in a single layer. Sprinkle about half of the chocolate chips on top. Put the rest of the bread in the pan, and then finish off with the rest of the chocolate. Carefully pour the pumpkin mixture, making sure to submerge all of the bread.

At this point, you can bake right away, or you can cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for a few hours. If you put it in the fridge, pull it out while the oven is preheating, so it can warm up slightly.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the center is mostly set. Serve warm or cold (I think this would be best warm, so you can have lots of melted chocolate). It's really good with vanilla ice cream!