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Bread Pudding with Heirloom Chocolate Sauce

Bread Pudding with Heirloom Chocolate Sauce

Bread and custard have been around since ancient times and we’ll never know who first put the two together. The basic form of the dish that we know today—dry bread mixed with egg and dairy and baked until set—has been around at least since Medieval times. Like most dishes using dry bread, bread pudding probably started as a technique for frugally using up bread that had gone stale rather than throwing it away.

The character of any bread pudding derives largely from the bread that is used. For our basic, all-around bread pudding recipe, we chose challah bread. Made with more eggs than most other breads, challah already has a rich flavor and smooth texture that makes an excellent base for bread pudding. If you can’t find challah in your local supermarket or bakery, you can substitute any high-quality bread. Feel free, as well, to experiment with different kinds of breads, including croissants, brioche, banana bread, or even—if you are feeling especially decadent—cake. Whatever bread you choose, be sure that it is well dried-out, otherwise it won’t fully absorb the custard.

The other key ingredient in a bread pudding is, of course, the eggs. Egg whites have a sulfur compound in them that gives eggs their characteristic eggy flavor. In desserts where eggs play only a supporting role, that eggy taste is often so diluted that it can’t be tasted. In bread pudding, however, eggs play a starring role and that eggy taste can distract from an otherwise delectable dessert. To keep that from happening, we stick to only the egg yolks. Separating the egg yolks can take some extra time but the end result is distraction-free enjoyment.

The pièce de résistance for this recipe is the phenomenal heirloom chocolate sauce at the end. Why heirloom chocolate? It turns out that the most easily and widely cultivated variety of chocolate is also the most bitter tasting. Turning to an heirloom variety will introduce new flavors you may not have experienced and with less bitterness. Although heirloom chocolate is becoming more widely available, you may still have some trouble finding it. If you can’t find it, feel free to substitute any high-quality chocolate. The resulting chocolate sauce is deliberately intensely chocolate flavored; you may want to pair it with crème anglaise if you prefer a less intense chocolate flavor.

Yield

Serves 8 to 10.

Time to Make

At least 2 hours, 45 minutes
and up to 3 hours

Variations

Bread Pudding

Shopping List

  • 1 loaf challah bread or country bread
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 5¼ ounces granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ ounce table salt
  • 1¾ cups heavy cream
  • 1¼ pints whole milk
  • 1½ ounces brown sugar
  • 2¼ fluid ounces light corn syrup
  • 1½ ounces unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces heirloom dark chocolate (60–70% cacao)

Equipment List

  • 2 rimmed baking sheets
  • 13″ by 9″ baking pan
  • instant read thermometer
  • wire rack
  • small, nonreactive saucepan

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  • 1 loaf (14 ounces) challah bread or country bread
  •  
  • 2 rimmed baking sheets

Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and preheat to 325 degrees. Cut the bread into ¾-inch cubes and spread in a single layer over two rimmed baking sheets. Bake, tossing occasionally, until the cubes are just dry, about 15 minutes. Set the bread cubes aside and let cool. Leave the oven on at 325 degrees.


  • 9 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • 2½ cups heavy cream
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  •  
  • 13″ by 9″ baking pan

Whisk yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Add the cream and the milk and whisk until combined. Add the cooled bread cubes to the mixture and toss until the cubes are thoroughly coated. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and let stand for 30 minutes, pressing occasionally to ensure that every piece of bread is completely saturated.


  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  •  
  • instant read thermometer
  • wire rack

Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top of the dish. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until the center is just set, about 45 to 50 minutes. There should be no liquid under the surface and an instant read thermometer inserted into the middle should register 170 degrees. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until just above room temperature, about 45 minutes.


  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces heirloom dark chocolate (60–70% cacao)
  •  
  • small, nonreactive saucepan

While the bread pudding is baking, divide the butter into three pieces (for faster melting). Then chop the chocolate finely and set aside.

Add the cream, corn syrup, butter, and salt to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is boiling, remove it from the heat and add the chocolate while swirling the pan gently. Cover the pan with it’s lid and let stand until the chocolate is fully melted, about 5 minutes. Uncover and stir gently until the chocolate is fully incorporated.


  • prepared chocolate sauce from step 4

When the bread pudding has cooled enough to handle, cut into squares. Drizzle each square with the chocolate sauce and serve immediately.