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An Irresistibly Easy Version of Bread Pudding

The Food Processor

November 19, 1987|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

Bread pudding is one dessert I find hard to resist, even after the most filling meal. For me, the sweet combination of soft bread baked with creamy custard is so satisfying that bread pudding has been gaining on cheesecake as one of my preferred desserts.

One evening I tasted chocolate bread pudding. It was an excellent version of an exceptional dessert but something was missing. There simply was not enough chocolate. So I went to work on my own recipe.

While it is not necessary to use a food processor to make plain bread pudding, the machine proved to be invaluable in making my chocolate version.

Start With Chocolate

First, I put one-quarter pound of room temperature semisweet chocolate and a small amount of sugar into the food processor with the metal blade. I grind the chocolate to the consistency of small beads and sprinkle 2/3 of the chocolate over and under the bread slices. The remainder was stirred into the custard mixture.

When baked, the unmelted beads of chocolate softened enough to flavor both the bread and custard, but the full flavor of the dark chocolate remained.

Grinding chocolate in the processor takes about 30 seconds and ensures that the chocolate will melt evenly. Before grinding, bring the semisweet chocolate to room temperature and cut it into 1/2-inch chunks. Many food processors will easily grind four to six ounces of chocolate in a single batch and up to four tablespoons of sugar acts as an abrasive, helping the chocolate break into even pieces.

If you are grinding less than 1/4 pound chocolate, it is best to process it like garlic, by dropping pieces into the machine with the motor on. No matter what the amount, you know that chocolate is ground to the correct bead-like texture when you hear the processing sound change to a hum.

CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING

1 pound hallah or unsliced egg bread or day-old brioche

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

1/4 pound semisweet chocolate, broken in 1/2-inch pieces

2/3 cup sugar

6 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups whipping cream

1 1/2 cups milk

Cut bread into 3/4-inch slices. Put slices on baking sheet and toast on one side under broiler until golden. While still hot, butter both sides of slices. Set aside.

Insert metal blade in food processor. Process chocolate with 3 tablespoons sugar until finely ground. Set mixture aside.

In mixing bowl, mix eggs, remaining sugar, vanilla, cream and milk. Set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Put 10-inch round cooking parchment or wax paper in bottom of 10x2-inch cake pan or line shallow 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish with parchment. Butter parchment and pan sides.

Sprinkle one-third ground chocolate on bottom of dish. Put layer of bread over chocolate and sprinkle with half remaining ground chocolate. Add second layer of bread, adjusting slices to fit snugly. Pour in half of custard. Stir remaining chocolate into remaining custard and pour over bread (distribute chocolate evenly over bread if necessary). With clean hands, press bread down firmly to be sure it is completely immersed in custard. Cover with sheet buttered aluminum foil directly touching top of pudding.

Put cake pan or baking dish in roasting pan. Add enough hot tap water to come halfway up outside of pan or dish. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour 15 minutes, or until knife inserted into center of pudding withdraws clean. Cool to lukewarm before serving. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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