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Bread Pudding with Mixed Berries and Chocolate
by Wolfgang Puck
You can use a wide variety of fresh or dried fruit in this bread pudding recipe, or keep things simple with chocolate or nuts
People often think of bread pudding as a dessert that people make to enjoy only on cold, wintery days. But when you think about it, the comforting mixture of egg custard and bread is really a dessert for all seasons.
This versatile recipe can be embellished with whatever fresh, peak-of-season fruit you like. Even better, you can serve and enjoy it in a surprisingly wide variety of ways.
In late spring and early summer, I find bread pudding a perfect dessert for showcasing the abundance of fresh, juicy, fragrant berries you'll find at good prices in farmers' markets and food stores everywhere. In fact, when I walk through my local Sunday morning market at this time of year with my two young sons, there's a good chance that one of them will spot the berries and say to me, "Papa, let's make bread pudding!"
Later in the summer, the boys are just as likely to ask me for a bread pudding that features the fresh apricots, peaches, nectarines, or plums they see filling the market stalls. Come autumn, they'll be equally happy if I slice and saute some apples or pears with a little butter and sugar, then mix them with the other bread pudding ingredients.
Even when we don't have a supply of fresh seasonal fruit on hand, I will make the same basic recipe with dried fruit, such as seedless raisins, dried cranberries or cherries, or cut-up dried apricots or other large pieces of dried fruit. You can even use frozen berries or other fruit successfully to enjoy a taste of summer in the middle of winter, if you like.
The versatility of bread pudding doesn't end there, either. I'll use whatever rich-tasting bread I have on hand for the dessert's foundation: brioche, challah, or plain old French bread. The most important thing is to toast the bread cubes thoroughly in the oven first, which helps to give the pudding more flavor, color, and texture. I also like to add to the pudding other embellishments, such as chopped chocolate -- so good with the berries -- or toasted nuts. Sometimes, I'll even leave out the fruit entirely and just make a chocolate or nut bread pudding.
Once the pudding has been baked, you have even more choices. As good as it is hot from the oven, it's also delicious lukewarm or cold, making it an even better warm-weather dessert. And, of course, whatever temperature I serve it at, I think it's always better with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Berry bread pudding a la mode: It's hard to imagine a dessert that sounds more like the taste of summer than that!
Bread Pudding With Mixed Berries & Chocolate Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Yield: Serves 8
Bread Pudding With Mixed Berries & Chocolate Recipe Ingredients
5 cups cubed stale brioche, challah, croissants, or crustless French bread
Butter-flavored or plain nonstick cooking spray
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large cage-free eggs
4 large cage-free egg yolks
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1-1/2 cups mixed ripe berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, or blueberries
Bread Pudding With Mixed Berries & Chocolate Recipe Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Toast until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the cubes from the oven, but leave the oven on.
Generously spray a 12-inch round ovenproof pan or a 3-quart baking dish with butter-flavored or plain nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the bread cubes to the baking dish, spreading them evenly.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Whisk continuously, slowly pouring 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks. Then, while continuously whisking the milk mixture still in the pan, carefully pour the egg mixture into the pan, using a rubber spatula to scrape all of the egg mixture from the bowl.
Pour this custard mixture over the bread cubes. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Then, with a spatula or the back of a large spoon, gently press the bread down into the custard mixture. Evenly sprinkle on the chocolate chunks and fold them gently into the bread mixture. Evenly spread the berries on top.
Place the baking dish inside a larger roasting pan. Protecting your hand with an oven mitt, partly pull out an oven shelf and place the roasting pan on it. Using a large measuring cup with a pouring lip, pour water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the side of the baking dish; then, slide the shelf into the oven, taking care to avoid splashing, and close the oven.
Bake until the bread pudding is set and the top is just beginning to color, about 45 minutes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, being very careful to avoid splashing the hot water. Set the pudding aside. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Bread Pudding Recipe with Mixed Berries & Chocolate
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