Chocolate Bread Pudding

Chocolate Bread Pudding
Serves 6 or more
3/4 cup golden raisins
7 large eggs
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
3 TB pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1,  2 lb loaf rustic french bread
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
sweetened whip cream or vanilla ice cream for serving
1. In a small bowl, cover the raisins with cold water and soak them for about 1 hour. Drain them and set them aside. (The raisins can soak while you proceed with the rest of the recipe.)
2. To make the custard, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Set it aside.
3. Trim the crust from the bread (reserve the crust for another use, such as bread crumbs) and cut the bread into 4 -by-2 inch rectangles about 3/4 inch thick. Lightly toast the bread slices in the oven. While the toast is warm, spread each slice generously with butter.
4.Make the bread pudding in a large loaf pan, or oval baking dish about 10x5x3 inches. Place enough of the bread slices in the bottom of the pan to cover it completely, making sure they fit snugly. Scatter a quarter of the raisins and a quarter of the chocolate chips over the bread. Top it with another layer of bread slices. Keep layering the pudding until there are 4 layers and all the raisins, chocolate and bread are used. The top layer should be raisins and chocolate.
5. Gently pour the custard over the pudding so that it sinks down to the bottom and covers the top of the pudding so that it sinks down to the bottom and covers the top of the pudding. With the back of a spoon or spatula, press down on the bread to compact the pudding and distribute the custard. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and then with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.
6. Refrigerate the pudding for at least 2 hours or for up to 12 hours. The longer (12 hours) the better.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Put a deep roasting pan on the rack, large enough to hold the loaf pan easily.
8. remove the foil and plastic wrap. discard the plastic wrap and replace it with the aluminum foil. Put the pudding in the roasting pan and add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come half to three-quarters of the way up the sides of the loaf pan.
9. Bake the pudding for about 1-1/2 hours or until a skewer poked through the foil comes out clean, return the pudding to the oven for 15-30 minutes longer, or until it’s done. Let the pudding cool, unwrapped, for 1 hour before serving.
10. Invert a serving platter over the pudding and holding the platter in place over the loaf pan, turn it upside down to release the pudding onto the platter. Immediately turn the pudding upright. serve slices with whipped cream or ice cream.
Note: The pudding can be made up to one day ahead of time, refrigerated and the reheated in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the center is hot. I reheated it in the microwave for about 15 seconds.

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