Are you too chocolated out from Valentine’s Day? The answer is no, because it’s impossible to have too much chocolate, although this bread pudding tests the limit.
My uncle spied a recipe for chocolate brioche bread pudding in the Times-Picayune and requested it for Super Bowl Sunday. Like a dutiful niece, I obliged. (Any excuse to make a dessert, particularly a rich chocolate one, I take.) It hails from Beth Biundo, pastry chef at local restaurant Lilette. (We love our bread pudding in New Orleans.) The first challenge* was finding brioche. Three grocery stores later,
I my dad succeeded. The brioche loaf is sliced and diced, then toasted a bit so it can soak up more of the pudding mixture. (The “stale bread” effect.) Magically, when you combine excessive amounts of carbs, sugar, and fat brioche, cream, sugar, chocolate, and eggs, you get a delicious dessert! Shocking. It is rich rich rich, so much so that whipped cream is necessary to lighten the texture. (It always amuses me that cream is used to “lighten” desserts, but texturally, not nutritionally, it does.) Unlike some bread puddings, which overlap with the baked french toast species in texture, this is truly a pudding. Prior to baking, I thought the pudding mixture too much for the amount of bread, but trust me, it bakes up into a true bread pudding with the bread absorbed into the chocolate pudding. This is not exactly diet material, and don’t even think about trying to make it be.
*The other challenge associated with the bread pudding was its appearance. It’s not winning any awards anytime soon. (I spared your delicate sensibilities the more…unappealing ones.) But don’t let its appearance deter you!
Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding
adapted from Beth Biundo via The Times Picayune
1 pound loaf brioche, cubed (1/2-inch to 1-inch cubes) and toasted in a 300° oven until dry and crisp but not dark (brioche is best, but challah or croissants can be substituted)
2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, medium-finely chopped
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped cream, for serving
In a large saucepan, combine the cream, milk, and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and stir until melted.
In a large bowl (large enough to hold all the brioche cubes), whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and salt. Slowly pour the cream/chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. When completely combined, fold in the brioche cubes. Cover, refrigerate, and let the mixture soak at least 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Generously butter a 9 x 13-inch pan. Pour in the bread pudding mixture. Set the pan into a larger pan and pour about 1/2 inch of water into the larger pan. Bake until firm, set, and just starting to puff, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Serve warm. Freshly whipped cream is an almost-necessity due to the density and richness and intensity. Better yet, the original recipe suggests bourbon milk punch ice cream (or bourbon whipped cream).
Storing: The bread pudding will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week. It is very fudgy and pudding-y cold, or reheats nicely.