This chocolate bread pudding is decadent and rich without being too sweet, which means it’s basically the perfect dessert.
My husband and I started dating in mid-November, which means that many of our first dates were holiday-related: black Friday shopping at the outlets, a Christmas movie, looking at Christmas lights, and of course, a New Year’s Eve date. We settled on dinner at an amazing little Italian restaurant nestled into the South Side of Pittsburgh and had 10:00pm reservations. I’m not sure why exactly, but I remember that meal so vividly.
Our appetizer was crostini topped with sautéed mushrooms, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and basil… For my dinner, I had gnocchi in a wild boar sauce – best gnocchi I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant, hands-down. And then dessert… I ordered something less than memorable, but my husband ordered the chocolate bread pudding. He could tell I was less than enthused about my dessert and offered to swap me. I happily accepted and devoured his chocolate bread pudding. It was so rich and decadent and the perfect ending to such an amazing meal. The staff at the restaurant passed out party hats and noisemakers and we rang in the new year with full, happy bellies.
I’ve thought about that chocolate bread pudding for the last seven years and finally, FINALLY made it myself!
Toasted challah is soaked in chocolate cream sauce, then spread in a baking dish and covered in a chocolate custard. While it is bathed in a double dose of chocolate, the bread pudding is decadent but not as sweet as you might imagine. Topped with a little extra chocolate sauce and whipped cream, if you’d like, it is an absolutely phenomenal dessert and completely deserving of a special occasion.
If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in this year, make it a little extra-special with this chocolate bread pudding for dessert!
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place the cubed challah on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden and crisp, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Increase the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1½ cups of the heavy cream, the milk, ½ cup of the sugar, the cocoa powder and espresso powder over medium-high heat until steaming and the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Pour the warm mixture over the toasted challah and let stand, tossing occasionally, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of the remaining heavy cream to a simmer in the now-empty saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until completely melted and smooth. Transfer 1 cup of the chocolate mixture to a medium bowl and allow to cool for 5 minutes (set aside the remaining chocolate mixture). Add the egg yolks, remaining 1½ cups heavy cream and remaining ½ cup sugar to the bowl with the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
Transfer the soaked challah mixture to the prepared pan and pour the chocolate custard mixture evenly over it. Bake until the pudding is just set and the surface is slightly crisp, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Warm the reserved chocolate mixture over low heat and pour over the pudding prior to serving. Leftover bread pudding should be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Make-Ahead Note: Once the soaked challah mixture has been transferred to the pan and covered with the chocolate custard, the pan can be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. The reserved chocolate sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and proceed with baking and serving as directed, increasing the baking time to 55 minutes to 1 hour. The leftover chocolate sauce can be reheated in the microwave.Nutritional values are based on one serving