Chocolate Bread Pudding Drizzled with Heavy Cream

I never tasted bread pudding until I made this one, which tastes like a very rich, very decadent brownie. Even if you don’t usually serve heavy cream, don’t omit it here: the pudding is at its best with something that contrasts with the chocolate intensity. You could also serve vanilla or cinnamon ice cream or whipped cream instead of the heavy cream.

Serves 6.

6 cups ½- to 1-inch bread cubes (from day-old anadama, oatmeal, challah, cinnamon, white bread, or a combination)
1½ cups heavy cream
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate grated
½ cup sugar
5 large eggs, separated
⅓ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish.

2. Place the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Place 1 cup of the cream in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until it is warm. Add the chocolates and cook until they are completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Place the cream and chocolate mixture in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and blend. While the machine is running, gradually add the sugar, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla and process until smooth. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes.

3. Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer and beat until they form stiff peaks. Gradually fold in the whites, by hand, to the chocolate mixture and gently combine until incorporated.

4. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and place in a larger roasting pan filled with 2 inches of water. The baking dish should be surrounded by a bath of hot water. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and bake until the pudding begins to set about 35 minutes.

5. Serve warm in individual bowls or cups, drizzled with the remaining ½ cup cream.

Note: It’s worth searching health food and specialty food stores for heavy cream that has not been ultra-pasteurized.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)