If I was blinded folded and served this dessert and asked what it was, I’m not sure that I’d say “bread pudding”. This recipe from Suzanne Goin’s “Sunday Suppers at Lucques” was probably the biggest surprise of everything that I cooked from her book over the weekend. Maybe I haven’t eaten a lot of bread pudding and I know I haven’t made a lot of bread pudding (unless you count the time I made it to serve 125 at a party I was catering), but this was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time.
There are two elements that make this rendition of a very comforting dessert better than usual-more creamy custard than bread and a surprise of melted chocolate at the bottom of each spoonful. The hint of cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg paired perfectly with the chocolate.
Carmelized Bread Pudding With Chocolate and Cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4-5 slices brioche, or good quality white bread (Pepperidge Farm), 1/4″ thick, crusts removed
3 extra large eggs
2 extra large egg yolks
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, for carmelizing top
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the softened butter on one side of the brioche. Cut each slice in half on the diagonal and then again into quarters.
Whisk together the eggs, yolks and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add cream, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, whisking well to combine.
Sprinkle the chocolate over the bottom of a 9 x 9 baking dish. Arrange the brioche, buttered side up, with slices slightly overlapping, over the chocolate (there should be just a single layer of bread). Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down with your fingers to make sure the bread soaks it up.
Place the bread pudding in a roasting pan and pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes until the custard is set and the bread puffs up slightly. The pudding will be springy to the touch.
Let the pudding cool 10 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top. If you have a blowtorch, torch to carmelize. You can also run the pudding under the broiler to carmelize, but be careful not to curdle the custard.
This is bread pudding at its best-warm, light and luscious. Enjoy!