Bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts. It has a fantastic doughy, eggy, springy quality, sort of like a really good french toast. Made with bittersweet chocolate, it has that sweet-but-not-too-sweet perfection that for me characterizes the very best desserts. It goes nicely with vanilla, coffee or salted caramel ice cream, or some fresh whipped cream.
It turns out bread pudding is strikingly easy to make and doesn't require any of the precise measuring of typical baked goods. Cube up some fluffy bread like brioche or challah. Mix a few wet ingredients together (a basic custard, if you want to be technical about it), and pour them on top. Add whatever flavorings you like--here, I've used chocolate chips, vanilla extract and some good espresso. Coffee has this magical way of lifting up the flavor of chocolate.
1 loaf brioche or challah, preferably stale
3 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 shots espresso (or some brewed coffee)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Slice the bread into cubes. Grease a baking pan and toss in the bread.
2. Beat together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and espresso until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture over the bread. Mix if desired. Scatter the chocolate chips around the pan so that they are roughly evenly distributed.
3. Let the bread mixture sit for ten minutes or so. Then stick it in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the egg has set.
Serve warm with ice cream or homemade whipped cream.
Total time: about 1 hour