Bread pudding—that magical combination of milk, cream, eggs and yes, bread—is so incredibly versatile. It's basically a casserole that can take the form of sweet or savory, and be served at breakfast or dessert.
Bread puddings are sometimes called stratas, but there is a technical difference. Stratas contain more eggs than cream and are more likely to be savory. Bread puddings tend to be sweet and have a custard-like texture. But, whatever you call them, this act of transforming stale bread and a few basic ingredients into baked deliciousness is wonderfully satisfying.
Equally wonderful is the fact that bread puddings are quite easy to make and can even be assembled the day before, then baked off the day they need to be served. Who doesn't love a make-ahead dessert when planning a dinner menu?
This version doubles down the chocolate flavor, using both cocoa powder and chocolate chips. The bread pudding gets an extra special touch from melted chocolate poured over the top after the casserole bakes, making it creamy, gooey, and oh so irresistible.
- For the Bread Pudding:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 5 cups challah bread (cubed)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
- For the Topping:
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Cut the challah, or other egg bread such as brioche, into 1-inch cubes. This is a great use of stale bread. Although you can use fresh bread as is, stale bread will absorb the liquid better. If your bread is fresh, lightly toast the cubes by spreading them out on a baking sheet and placing them in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes. You can also leave them on the counter overnight.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, salt, whole milk, heavy cream, eggs, and vanilla.
Fold in the bread cubes and chocolate chips and allow the mixture to sit for about half an hour for the bread to absorb some of the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Butter a medium sized baking dish (approximately 10" x 7") and pour in the bread mixture and all the unabsorbed liquid. Note that it will puff as it bakes and then slightly deflate when it cools down after baking.
Place on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the mixture is set.
Make the topping by melting the chocolate chips in the microwave for a few seconds and stirring in the heavy cream until smooth. Pour over the top of the bread pudding and serve warm or at room temperature.