Sunday, September 21, 2008
There's a restaurant chain in Houston, TX, where I'm from, called Pappa's. The original was seafood but over the past 30+ years, they've expanded to separate restaurants specializing in Cajun, barbeque, steak, burgers, Greek and Mexican. It's at the excellent Pappasito's Cantina (the best Mexican restaurant that I know of) that I first tasted chocolate bread pudding.
It was magnificent. It contradicted what I believed bread pudding to be - it was solid, rich and decadent. It quickly became a staple of the ultimate meal at Pappasito's. The restaurant serves it at room temperature (or even slightly chilled) with crème anglaise AND a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. The two creamy sides compliment the rich chocolate dessert perfectly.
So when I went in search of a chocolate bread pudding recipe, I started getting discouraged: those with pictures clearly looked nothing like the kind from Pappasito's. They were more traditional bread pudding, thin, kind of goopy or loose, and none had terrific reviews. Then I stumbled on one called "DOUBLE Chocolate Bread Pudding" and I was intrigued. The recipe was directly from a restaurant called South City Kitchen in Georgia and the picture looked JUST like Pappasito's (in terms of consistency). However, it called for croissants instead of a regular French bread and having seen bits of bread-bread in Pappasitos', I knew I would have to alter their recipe. That made for a little uncertainty but once the finished product came out, I had absolute NO complaints.
It was better than I could've hoped for. VERY close to Pappasitos' recipe. I even made sure to have crème anglaise with it! I ended up using hoagie bread which are just small (about 5-6 inch long), oval loaves and they weren't stale or hard. They were still soft and they soaked up the custard very well, making a solid pudding.
This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things. If you enjoy rich, chocolatey desserts, you MUST make this.
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
Adapted from South City Kitchen, Vinings
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut into small chunks
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pinch salt
8 ounces bread (about 3 large hoagie-sized pieces)
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Place the semisweet chocolate in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, cream and butter until butter is melted. Add to the semisweet chocolate, cover with a plate and set aside for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth.
In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Beat a small amount of the warm chocolate mixture into the eggs, then whisk all of the egg mixture into the warm chocolate mixture.
Break up the bread into about 1-inch pieces and fold them into the custard mixture. (Add only enough to coat the bread very well and have a little liquid left over.) Then fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour into a buttered 2 quart baking dish (or 8-inch square pan). Bake until set, about 1 1/2 hours. Let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes; serve warm. Chill remainder as soon as possible. Leftovers can be reheated in a microwave oven.
2 cups milk
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Rinse the inside of a nonaluminum saucepan with water and shake out the excess water. Pour in the milk, place over medium-low heat and cook until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolk and sugar and whisk just until blended. Gradually whisk in half of the hot milk, then pour the egg mixture into the pan. Set over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not allow it to boil.
Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and let cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 2 days.
Makes about 2 cups.