This is the grand finale of my week of chocolate brioche. Let me start by saying I've never been a fan of bread pudding. It always seems to me that there's too much bread and not enough pudding. But I think I've got the ratio just right with this one. It's the perfect blend of chocolate brioche and chocolate custard; soft and tender, but sturdy enough to portion into neat squares. I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla to the custard and served the warm pudding with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. The recipe makes four modest and very satisfying servings, but once you taste it you might want to double it and make a lot more (I know I do). The pudding can be made ahead, cooled, and refrigerated. When you're ready to serve, cut the portions and reheat gently (the microwave works well for this), top with ice cream, and enjoy!
Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding
5 ounces of 1-inch cubes Chocolate Brioche
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
A pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or extract)
Butter a 6x6x2-inch square baking pan (or a similar dish with a one quart capacity). Put the cubed chocolate brioche in the pan and allow to sit, uncovered, at room temperature while you prepare the custard. In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine the chocolate, milk, and cream. Heat gently, stirring all the while, until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until blended. Add the pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Pour a little of the warm chocolate mixture into the eggs, whisking all the while, to temper them. Gradually add the remainder of the liquid to the egg mixture, whisking to blend. Pour the chocolate custard over the brioche cubes in the baking pan. Gently push the brioche down into the custard; it will soak up the liquid as it stands. Preheat the oven to 325°F, with the rack positioned in the center. Create a bain marie (water bath) by placing the baking pan in a larger pan. Pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Place in the oven and bake the bread pudding for about 30 minutes, or until the custard is set. Remove to a rack and cool slightly. Serve warm with your favorite ice cream (cinnamon is good). Wrap leftovers tightly and refrigerate promptly.