5 weeks ago
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe for Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding was chosen by Lauren of Upper East Side Chronicle. I love bread pudding -- I will never forget the first time I tried the bread pudding souffle at Commander's Palace in New Orleans -- but I have never made it before. And my track record with the so-called "spoon desserts" I've made with TWD did not exactly leave me brimming with confidence going into this one. Some of my spoon desserts turned out more like "straw desserts;" others more like "shot glass" desserts. There have been the fugly mutant custards and the floating islands that reminded my husband of alka seltzer (in a good way). So I was really feeling the pressure to turn out a semi-respectable bread pudding, so as to not be permanently banished to the spoon dessert hall of shame.
The threshold question that must be asked before making any bread pudding is "what kind of bread?" Dorie suggests "brioche, challah or white," and there were all kinds of cool ideas floating around on the P&Q, including doughnuts. Oh yeah! But as soon as I saw that brioche was a good option for this bread pudding, I knew that it was time for me to roll up my sleeves and attempt to make Dorie's version of this rich, buttery bread that has long intrigued and intimidated me.
I made the brioche (and sticky buns with the other half of the dough). My loaf had a misshapen form and slightly overdone crust that only a mother could love:
But it looked much better when sliced
And it tasted delicious. I cut off the amount needed for a half recipe of this bread pudding, and let it sit out in the open air to "stale up" a bit. I kept checking it, but you know how the old saying goes, "a watched loaf never stales" -- so I ended up using Dorie's technique to speed up the staling process in the oven.
Once the bread is stale, cube it and throw it in a pyrex pan. Heat up some whole milk (I used 2% because that's what I had) and cream, and in a separate bowl whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar. You know what's coming next, don't you? Milk heating, eggs in a separate bowl? Oh yes, that could only mean one thing -- "tempering the eggs so they don't curdle." I have a Pavlovian reaction (profanity) whenever I read those words, which is interesting because I think I actually have not curdled eggs much more than I've curdled them. But I always have this nagging feeling that the eggs are going to do what they are going to do regardless of anything I do in the hot-milk-pouring or whisking department. I guess I am an egg fatalist.
But my eggs did not curdle this time, and I continued pouring and whisking vigorously, and then added chopped chocolate to the mixture, whisking all the while.
Pour the custard over the bread. I apparently did not do as good of a job de-bubbling as I was supposed to.
And let the bread sit on the counter for 30 minutes, pressing down on the bread with the back of a spoon occasionally.
This gets baked in a water bath -- the bread pudding pan goes in a larger roasting pan, and then you pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the pudding pan. I managed to slosh some water into the pudding while I was pouring - I was apparently just being "careful," rather than "very careful," as Dorie advises. It's done in 35 to 45 minutes, or when "the pudding is uniformly puffed, the top is dull and dry and a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean."
The result? This was delicious! Unlike some of the other desserts we've made recently, this was chocolatey, but not insanely so. It was rich, comforting and satisfying, and there was no doubt that the brioche was the star of this pudding. This might be one of the first times I've ever disagreed with one of Dorie's serving suggestions -- she recommends serving this at cool room temperature or cold instead of warm, but I really loved it best warm (the warm pudding was especially good with homemade vanilla ice cream!)
Hubs doesn't eat chocolate, so I enlisted my kids to help me with this. My one year old loved it; my four year old would not try it; and my six year old tried one bite and said that it was really good, but then wouldn't eat any more. I must look like I have a fragile ego, though, because he went out of his way to reassure me that just because he wasn't eating it didn't mean that he didn't like it.
You can hop on over to Lauren's blog for the recipe. Thanks for the great pick, Lauren!