I had to do a little "From the Archives" bit right here, because I forgot how (excuse my language) FREAKING GOOD this bread pudding is. I made it a few weeks ago, and seriously, I could not stop eating the leftovers. I even served it cold to my father, and he said it tastes like ice cream. OK now, what dessert is so awesome in and of itself and then ALSO tastes like ice cream? This dessert. That's what.
Let's take a stroll down memory Lane and head back to one year ago, April 21st, 2009 (cue Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World doing their idiosyncratic wipe flashback effect - "Doodooleeloo! Doodooleeloo!"...)
Bread Pudding ranks up there with rice pudding for me. And when I say "ranks up there", I mean, "YUCK". I have a thing with soggy carbs. They just shouldn't exist. As I was growing up, my father used to pour a bowl of Fiber One cereal and let it soak on the counter for a half an hour before eating it every morning. I would walk through the kitchen and gag.
Those were horrible, horrible memories.
But when I saw that Lauren of Upper East Side Chronicle (click for recipe) chose bread pudding for this week's TWD, I was open to trying it for two reasons. First, I am taking from the title of her blog that Lauren lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (call me Captain Obvious, please. No seriously. Do it.), which holds a special place in my heart, as it was my home for a while and am hoping it will be my home again when I move back to NY in August! Second, If anyone can convert me on a dessert I once hated, it would be Dorie.
I wanted to find a way to enjoy this recipe, just in case this recipe did not change my feelings towards soggy bread pudding. I have been wanting to try the Cooks Illustrated recipe for Tiramisu since December, and I thought that this would be the perfect time to try it.
I prepared the custard for Dorie's Chocolate Bread pudding and I already had good feelings about this one, even without the adjustments. The custard looked thick and rich and I thought there was no way it could possibly not be delicious.
To make it a bit more like Tiramisu, I cut down the milk to 2 cups, upped the heavy cream to 1 1/4 cups, and added 6 tablespoons dark rum and 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee.
This would either be brilliant or the worst thing ever to happen to bread pudding.
After cooking and cooling the bread pudding, I tried a taste.
Could it be? That... it is not bad?
Another bite. Could it be? That... this is AMAZING?
One more bite. The bread was custard-y and moist, yet not soggy. The chocolate flavor was perfection. Hints of rum and coffee found their way through at the end of every taste.
One more bite. Finally, I had to force myself not to have another bite because I didn't want to be a Fatty McGee.
Now, let me get something straight. I do not mean that if you take more than three bites of this dessert, that you would be a Fatty McGee. It is just that my body does not like to metabolise anything more than a stick of Extra Sugar-Free™ Gum, so I could not have more than three bites, lest I wanted to turn into said Fatty McGee.
I made the tiramisu cream (which was outrageously good) and yet again, Cooks Illustrated proved that pure brilliance emanates from their test kitchen. The cream was rich and creamy (obvs), yet fluffy and light as air, with a subtle hint of rum.
And it was PERFECT with the Tiramisu bread pudding. I can't even explain how good this was. My boyfriend did his happy dance again. I had 2 more bites. Fatty McGee be damned!
Billowly, delicious tiramisu cream enveloped the creamy coffee and chocolate flavored custard in two layers. I did a Google Search for Tiramisu and the second item that popped up was "Heaven in Your Mouth."
Oh, and this was.
When I eat something made from Challah bread that is good, I immediately shout "Challaaaaaaah!" (like Holla!!!"), which is something that my friends from college and I always said because one of our roommates, Shira, often kept Challah bread in the house.
Well, this definitely deserves a "Challaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" times twelve. Seriously. Try this recipe. Check out the other TWDers. Unleash your inner McGee.
Fatty-less, of course.
Bread Pudding recipe (adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours)
12 ounces bread (brioche, challah or white), preferably stale
2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cup heavy cram
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
6 tablespoons dark rum
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Have a 9-x-13 inch baking pan at hand (a Pyrex pan is perfect here), as well as a roasting pan big enough to hold the baking pan and how water. Line the roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. It the bread is stale, put it and the raisins or cherries, if you are using them, into the baking pan. If it is not stale, spread it out on a a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and bake in a 350-degree-F oven to "stale" it for 10 minutes, then toss into the pan (with the fruit).
Bring the milk and cream just to a boil.
Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolks, rum, brewed coffee and sugar together in a bow. Still whisking, slowly drizzle in about one quarter of the hot milk mixture--this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they don't curdle. Whisking all the while slowly pour in the rest of the hot milk. Add the chocolate and whisk it in gently until it is melted and the custard is smooth. Rap the bowl against the counter to pop bubbles that might have formed, then pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help cover it with liquid. Leave the pan on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for 30 minutes.
GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. F.
Slide the pan setup into the oven and very carefully pour enough how water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the pudding is uniformly puffed, the top is dull and dry and a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
Tiramisu Cream recipe (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
4 tbsp dark rum
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 pound mascarpone cheese
¾ cup heavy cream (cold)
In a heat proof bowl set over simmering water, beat yolks at low speed with a hand mixer until just combined. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-hgih speed until pale yellow, 1 ½ to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. Add remaining 4 tablespoons rum and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl. Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice.
In a separate bowl, beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Increase speed to high and contine to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 ½ minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain.
Refrigerate the bread pudding for 1 hour to let it firm up. Cut it in half and place it on a plate. Top with 1/2tiramisu cream and sift 1 tbsp cocoa powder over the top. At this point, you can either put it back in the fridge to let the cream firm up a bit (an hour would be fine) and then top it with the other half of the bread pudding, or just immediately top it with the other half (but the cream will spill out of the sides a bit!). Top the second half with the remaining tiramisu cream and, again, add 1 tbsp sifted cocoa powder. You can also top it with shaved chocolate. Refrigerate 6-24 hours.