I’m going to confess something: I have a really bad habit of buying really nice loaves of fresh-baked bread with all the good intentions of making delicious sandwiches and then totally forgetting about them. This past weekend, my guy Stephen was pretty bummed when he went searching for bread and found a dry, week-old slab that just wasn’t cutting it as sandwich material. It seemed like a total loss until I found some chocolate chips lying around and decided that making bread pudding was the perfect apology and fix for such a sad situation. I grabbed a serrated knife and got to work. A little while later, I had a much happier companion and no stale bread!
Not only is this recipe great for using up older bread (fresh bread is perfectly okay too!), the add-ins and even the type of bread can be different every time. For example, chocolate brioche with dried cranberries makes an amazing wintry treat, or you can use sourdough and add nuts. If you really want to go out on a limb, cut the sugar amount in half to make a savory bread pudding; sausage and fennel with a cheddar cheese topping is my favorite. The options are unlimited.
For this recipe, the temperature is set to 325 degrees, but I prefer to aim lower at 300. It’ll take a little longer, but it will ensure that your eggs don’t overcook and nothing burns. You will also have to use a water bath, but don’t worry; find a baking dish that the bread pudding will sit comfortably in, set it in the oven and pour water to fill the pan, only halfway up. When it’s time to take it out, use oven mitts to extract only the pan with the bread pudding in it. Leave the water bath in the oven until it cools and can be safely taken out without burning yourself. Also, the timing on this has a little wiggle room since the bread needs about 15 minutes to really soak up the custard mixture.
Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
2 ½ cups of cubed bread (I like using challah for this recipe because it’s a rich bread)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of milk
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup chocolate chips
Combine all wet ingredients and spices and whisk together well until it is a smooth mixture. Put bread in 6-8 inch pan and pour egg mixture over bread. Sprinkle chocolate chips and put in a 300 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm!