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Chocolate Bread Pudding

Chocolate Bread Pudding

Some days we just need chocolate. And this dish is chocolate in a divine form. Pillows of Challah bread soaked in a rich, chocolate egg custard infused with a rum and coffee liqueur. And the best part – it takes minutes to prepare before baking.

Impromptu dinner guests are common this time of year and having a delicious dessert to serve will make your company feel extra special. This is a dessert I’ve made for both casual and holiday dinners though it’s really great any time of the year. But there is something wonderful about this luscious dessert during the holiday season.

The best bread for bread pudding is Challah. This beautiful egg bread has the right flavor and texture for soaking up any custard base making it perfect for bread pudding or French toast. Challah bread holds its shape and transfers the flavors of the ingredients in the most delicate way.

The egg custard begins with milk, half and half and yes, a touch of cream. Then three types of chocolate layers are added– chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate, rich cocoa powder and a wonderful chocolate extract. For the dark chocolate I use Williams-Sonoma Hot Chocolate. It’s a wonderful, high-quality dark chocolate, already chopped and is the perfect consistency for this bread pudding. Pure vanilla and almond extracts plus the warm spice of cinnamon are there to play off the chocolate and add an extra note or two.

Serve warm, chilled or at room temperature. It’s rich enough to stand on its own, but a little extra whipped cream or a dusting of powdered sugar is never a bad thing!

Chocolate Bread Pudding

10 cups cubed Challah bread, about ½ loaf

2 cups milk

1 cup half and half

½ cup cream

½ cup Kahlua

6 extra-large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons pure almond extract

1 teaspoon chocolate extract

1 cup sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup cocoa powder

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

8 ounces chopped dark chocolate

Spread the bread cubes evenly in a large baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray. (I use a large oval dish that is 15” x 10” 2-1/4” deep but a 13” x 9” dish will also work.)

Combine the milk, half and half, cream, Kahlua, eggs, vanilla, almond and chocolate extracts together in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until well blended.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, the brown sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon.

Whisk until mixed together. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

Combine the dry ingredients with the milk and egg mixture, whisking to blend.

Pour over the Challah bread cubes. Let stand for 20-30 minutes or until the bread cubes have soaked up the liquid mixture. Press the bread into the liquid as needed to help soak up the egg custard.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until the bread pudding is set in the center. If the bread pudding starts to darken on top, cover loosely with a sheet of foil.

You can also prepare this ahead, cover and refrigerate overnight. Allow the bread pudding to come to room temperature, about 30-45 minutes before baking.

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