Adapted from this recipe
6 cups, packed, of 1" cubes of slightly stale white bread (challah or french loaf), trimmed of crust
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch processed cocoa powder (sifted)
1 teaspoon salt
4 whole eggs, plus 1 egg yolk (you can save the white for later by freezing)
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 cup dried cherries (dried Bing cherries preferable if you can find them)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (or Port if you have it)
You will also need:
Soufflé or round baking dish (7-9” diameter, 3-4” high)
Butter for soufflé dish
Metal baking pan (9 x 13)
Heatproof batter bowl
Two sauce pans (one larger, one smaller)
Slice the bread into thick slices, remove most of crust and then cut into cubes and place in one layer on rimmed baking sheet & loosely cover with plastic wrap. Leave overnight & until you’re ready to cook.
Generously butter your soufflé dish then place the stale bread cubes into the buttered dish – it will be very full.
If using dried cherries, warm the wine and orange juice just a bit. Add in the cherries and let them sit to plump up while the rest of the dish is assembled.
Heat cream over low heat (or in microwave) until very hot. Place chopped unsweetened chocolate into a small heatproof bowl, then pour hot cream over the chocolate and place on small sauce pan with ½” – 1” of simmering water on low heat (do not let water touch bottom of bowl). Whisk/stir often until chocolate is completely melted. Heat milk (in microwave or on stove) until very hot; gradually add to melted chocolate mixture, stirring constantly. Add powdered cocoa and whisk until smooth. Allow to remain over heat for several minutes. Remove from heat. Refill the saucepan with water (to be heated later).
While chocolate is melting, whisk together sugars, and salt in a large sauce pan. Beat in eggs and yolk. Gradually stir in melted chocolate mixture, which should be warm. Place over low heat stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes. Custard should become warm and only thicken slightly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
If using dried cherries, drain the cherries from the wine/orange juice mixture; lightly rinse and dry using paper towels. Toss the cherries with the bread cubes in the soufflé dish.
Slowly ladle all the custard into bread so that every piece gets soaked. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, tossing to rotate the bread cubes after about 5 minutes so that the top layer gets re-soaked.
Bring several cups of water to a boil in the first saucepan. Adjust rack to center of oven and preheat to 325 F. Place your shallower metal baking dish on the oven rack and carefully pour in a thin layer of boiling water. Place filled soufflé dish into the water and cover with aluminum foil, folding it down over the sides. Then continue filling the metal baking dish until it reaches a depth of 1 inch.
Bake, covered, for 35-40 minutes. Remove foil and bake approximately 15-20 minutes longer. Test for doneness by sticking a sharp knife into the center about halfway down and removing. The knife should only be partly clean and still should have a slight smear of custard on it.
Carefully remove the soufflé dish from the oven and pan of water, taking care that the dish will be hot and possibly slippery.
Allow the pudding to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Refrigerate leftovers and reheat in the microwave for just a minute or so. Eat within two days of making.
Serve alone or with:
Caramel sauce or Cajeta
Unlike what you might do for your kids, remove the crusts from the bread then cut it into cubes.
From what I've read, somehow using a combination of solid baking chocolate squares and cocoa powder is the best combination for this dish.
Chop up the chocolate into small pieces. I use my Pampered Chef food chopper. You could use a Slap Chop if you've been sucked into the "You can have an exciting life" line.
If you are using dried cherries, which I highly recommend, soak them in either straight organge juice, red wine, Port, or a combination thereof.
Just look at that chocolatey goodness warming on my stove. Life just doesn't get much better than a big pot of chocolate custard warming on your stove.
Pour just a little boiling water in your large baking dish... I use a disposable one that is marked for just this use.
Then, after placing your souffle dish full of bread pudding inside the metal baking dish, continue to add boiling water until you have it about 1 inch deep. Be careful because the water will dribble down the side of your sauce pan. It's probably best to cover the bread pudding with the aluminum foil first, which I failed to do this time. I was lucky no water ended up in it.
Then you just slide that bad boy on into the oven. Cook it covered for probably close to 40 minutes, then uncover and continue to cook for probably at least another 15 minutes.
And when it's done, you will have the most wonderful chocolate smell throughout your house... mmmmm.
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