The Chef Within
Unique twist to chocolate bread pudding
I’m a succor for bread pudding. If it’s on a dessert menu I have to order it. Consequently, I’m always coming up with interesting variations. Here’s the latest and it may be my most favorite yet.
A few months ago I was catering a brunch and had to buy several dozen croissants. I ended up with a few extra and tried to find a clever way to use them. I was in the mood for bread pudding (no surprise) and thought, why not make a bread pudding with croissants and since I was also in the mood for chocolate I thought – why not try a variation with chocolate. So this is what I did:
I took some semisweet chocolate chips and melted them in the microwave.
Then I cut the croissants open as if I were making a sandwich and I spread them generously with the melted chocolate.
I capped them with their lids and sort of pressed the lids into the chocolate. Then I took them to the fridge to let the chocolate harden.
While it was hardening I made a simple custard with milk, eggs a little melted butter and sugar.
I cut the croissants into large cubes transferred them to a bowl and then covered and tossed them in the custard. When they had soaked up all the liquid they were capable of soaking …
I transferred the mixture to a greased casserole dish and baked it in the oven till the custard was set.
I served it to our family for dinner and it was a HUGE success. Of course I did serve it with additional chocolate and caramel sauce and a dollop of cream but even by its simple self it is wonderful and could even be served for breakfast.
I don’t usually lock people into recipes but this is so unusual it might be hard to find elsewhere.
Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding
Preheat oven to 325.
Take 6 large croissants (one or more days old), cut in half lengthwise as if you were making sandwiches. Melt 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave (carefully on low power) and then divide chocolate among the six croissant bottoms and spread to all the edges. Cap them with their lids and press the lids into the chocolate. Take to fridge and allow chocolate to harden.
Meanwhile make the custard:
3 cups half and half or whole milk
6 large eggs
½ cup sugar
2 ounces butter (melted)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
finely grated rind of one orange (optional, but I love it)
Combine all ingredients in bowl and whisk until blended.
When chocolate is completely chilled, take a serrated knife and cut the croissants into large one inch cubes and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Pour the custard mixture over evenly, toss gently and allow to absorb into bread. Transfer to greased baking dish. A 9×13 will work but something just a little smaller would be best.
Bake until center is just firm and no watery custard is apparent in the middle. Any dish made with eggs will puff as the eggs get done so look for puffy edges as another indicator of doneness. When done, remove from oven, cool and serve. The pudding is best served warm but can be made ahead and warmed gently for service. I love this with caramel and chocolate sauce and of course, whipped cream or ice cream.
You can go crazy making variations from this basic recipe. You can use different types of chocolate. In fact, if you have a “special, most costly and unique bar” I think it would highlight well in this recipe. This custard is not overly sweet so if you use a bitter chocolate you may want to increase the sugar amount. On the other hand if you use milk chocolate or white chocolate you may want to decrease the amount of sugar called for. You could sprinkle some tart cherries over the melted chocolate, before capping. Try the recipe, first, in its basic format and on subsequent makings try the variations.