Chocolate bread pudding is a wonder cure for any number of emotional ailments. Loneliness? Anxiety? Seasonal affective disorder? Check, check, and check. After spending this winter in the wilds of outer Cape Cod (Wellfleet, Mass, to be exact), I shook hands with all of these lovely feelings at one point or another, and the only thing that saved me was the fact that I had a huge kitchen at my disposal. After roasting countless chickens – my usual depression balm – I turned to my grandma’s favorite way out of an emotional hole: dessert.
This recipe is based on a bread pudding dish I posted a while back. I had almost all the necessary ingredients, but no marzipan; but while rifling through the cupboard, I found a huge bag of Valrhona chocolate chunks. What’s a sad, sad panda to do? Improvise, of course.
I knew this dish would be tasty, but I was unprepared for how incredible it turned out to be. This chocolate bread pudding is rich and thick and chocolatey, perfect for those days when you’re got more important things on your mind than counting f–king calories.
- Ingredients for ganache-laden bread:
- 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine
- ½ cup cream
- ½ cup milk (2% is fine)
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 loaf of thick, heavy, sliced bread (rice bread works especially well for this dish)
- Ingredients for pudding:
- 7 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1½ cups milk (2% is fine, but I recommend whole)
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ⅓ cup agave nectar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Shaved white and dark chocolate for garnish
- Make the ganache-laden bread: Add chopped chocolate to a large metal bowl.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, milk, ricotta, and salt. Stir constantly and heat until the cream very hot, but not boiling. You should see little bubbles begin to form around the edges of the pan.
- Slowly pour the hot cream into the chocolate, whisking quickly until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Using a tablespoon, spread the ganache thickly on one side of each slice of bread. Cut the slices into 1″ cubes and place in a deep casserole dish or Dutch oven. A 9×13 baking dish will do in a pinch, though you’ll need a larger pan for the water bath.
- Make the bread pudding: Add egg yolks to a large metal bowl and beat well. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat milk, cream, agave, honey and salt until it’s very hot, but not boiling. You should see a good amount of steam beginning to rise from the surface of the cream, but it should not bubble (this is about 170°F for you thermo-heads out there). Slowly pour hot pudding into egg yolks, a little at a time, while beating quickly. Do not combine too fast or you will scramble the eggs.
- Pour hot pudding over bread cubes in the casserole dish, reserving ½ cup of pudding. Gently agitate to make sure all of the bread is covered with pudding. Allow to sit for three hours, occasionally folding the bread cubes to allow for even absorption.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a water bath by finding a deep, heat-proof dish that will comfortably fit your casserole dish inside of it. Place casserole dish in the large pan, and fill the larger pan with water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the casserole dish that contains the bread pudding.
- Drizzle the remaining hot pudding around the top of the bread cubes. Slide the casserole dish, with it’s water bath, into the oven and cook for 1 hour. When it’s done, the top of the pudding should be puffy and start to crisp up a bit.
- Remove pudding from oven and allow to cool to room temperature so that it solidifies before serving. Cut unto squares and garnish with chocolate shavings. Note: This chocolate bread pudding recipe tastes best when it’s been allowed to sit overnight in the refrigerator, but if you can’t wait that long, at least wait until it’s completely cooled, lest you end up with a luscious chocolate puddle.
If you like this chocolate bread pudding recipe, check out these other recipes: