Pull up a chair and listen up. Bread pudding can be delicious. REALLY REALLY DELICIOUS. And this is coming from someone who said nope!!!! to this dessert only a few weeks ago. There’s all sorts of ways to bake bread pudding, but this chocolate bread pudding recipe– complete with buttery challah bread and real chocolate– is my favorite. My only regret is waiting so long to try it this way!
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 CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 4 cups half and half
- 1-1/4 cups dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup Bourbon
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 8 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large (about 1.3 lb) challah, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
- Vanilla ice cream (optional)
FOR THE BREAD PUDDING
- Chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks. Reserve 2/3 cup and set aside (you’ll use this for sprinkling over the bread pudding before baking).
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the half and half, brown sugar and cocoa powder; bring to a boil. Off the heat, whisk in the remaining chocolate, bourbon and cinnamon.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and vanilla extract. Very gradually, pour the hot chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously to combine (pour slowly, especially at the beginning, or the hot chocolate mixture will scramble the eggs). Add the bread cubes to the custard; cover and let soak in the fridge for at least 1.5 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9x13x2-inch glass baking dish with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the chocolate-soaked bread to the prepared baking dish, and spread the bread around evenly. Scatter the reserved 2/3 cup of chocolate over top, then use a spoon to push about half of the chocolate bits down into the pudding. Bake until slightly puffed and set in the center, 45-50 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes, then serve warm, dusted with confectioners’ sugar and topped with vanilla ice cream.