You’re going to hate me. Or at least think I’m full of crap. I swear I’m not!
So I saw Healthy Coconut’s decadent-looking recipe for chocolate bread pudding awhile back and had been set on trying it myself. But, I had been doing so well with cutting back on sweets that I was really hesitant to make something that would end up being full of temptation for me.
I made it anyways. Can you blame me? It really sounded delicious. But honestly, I was itching to just try a new baking recipe. Plus, I’ve been good about including more fruits and vegetables in my diet.
I had half a loaf of wheat French bread, plus 6 slices of multi-grain bread sitting in our cupboard. (My sister and I had decided to go with another brand without finishing that loaf. Dropped it like a hot potato!) And I had most of a carton of 2% milk left from when I decided to make macaroni & cheese from scratch. I know, mac & cheese is also not that healthy, but I figured making it from scratch is a step up from making the blue box. I don’t drink 2% otherwise. So I figured, “better to use up all these leftover ingredients than to just dump them.” At least I’m trying to not be wasteful! That counts for something, right?
I also had an elongated burst of energy on Sunday in between a 3-hour dance practice and my friend Amanda’s ballet show (she was featured in these posts here, here and here). I often dub Sundays as “Test Kitchen Sundays” since that’s usually when I have time to try new recipes and play around with ingredients. I probably should’ve devoted more time to making this, but I’m ambitious (sometimes to a fault), so I challenged myself to squeeze it in my schedule.
So I used Lea’s recipe as a guide while drawing from other recipes that I researched, subbing certain ingredients for others that I already had and working with the kind of bread available. I think because I used mostly 2% milk, as opposed to a thicker milk like heavy cream or coconut milk, the custard turned out a bit runnier than I expected – I’m wondering if I had had the time to leave it in the oven longer than 25 minutes, it would’ve thickened more. I did have heavy cream on hand, so in hindsight, I should’ve tried using that, or mixing it with the milk. If you guys know that my theory is totally wrong, let me know. I don’t think in any way it was undercooked – it tasted fine, and the next day it thickened from chilling in the freezer. Plus I’ve eaten like 1/3 of it already and I’m not dead, so I’m pretty sure it’s at least cooked properly.
I also should’ve immersed all the bread under the custard, instead of shingling the pieces as I had seen in other recipes. I would also scale back on the amount of coffee grinds I used – I drink bold, strong coffee and I could really notice the flavor in the finished product. It’s not a bad thing, for me at least, I actually like the taste. But Lil Sis was all, “DAMN this has lots of coffee.” So change according to your tastes.
Below I’m posting what I did, but including adjustments I would make in future iterations. If you would rather follow what is probably a better tried-and-true recipe, use Lea’s. But if you want to be a taste tester for my leftovers, I’ve got 2/3 of a bread pudding in my fridge and I don’t want to end up eating it all myself. Any takers?
Chocolate Bread Pudding (slightly adapted from Healthy Coconut)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 10 slices and pieces of whole wheat bread (I used French loaf and sliced multi-grain – mixing the two actually didn’t take away from the taste or consistency)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups milk, plus ½ cup heavy cream (I used 2% but I would actually go thicker, or combine it in equal parts with half-and-half or heavy cream – or use coconut milk)
- 3.5 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee (unless you really like coffee flavor, I would use just 1 teaspoon, at least if you’re using strong grinds)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Toppings: semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped hazelnuts – or whatever tickles your fancy and goes well with chocolate!
Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush melted butter on both sides of each bread slice/piece and toast in the oven, about 5-7 minutes per side. In an ungreased 9-inch baking dish, layer slices (if you shingle them like I did, the custard won’t cover everything).Whisk the cocoa and salt in a medium saucepan, then gradually whisk in the milk (or milk mixture). Warm the mixture gradually on medium low heat. Remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk until it melts. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, maple sugar, instant coffee and vanilla. Gradually whisk the hot chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the custard over the bread in the baking dish, allowing it to cover all pieces. Press down on the bread, if necessary. Let stand for 20 minutes, then add toppings. Meanwhile, boil water for the water bath.
Set baking dish in a roasting pan and place in the oven. Add boiling water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of baking dish. (Don’t be an idiot like me and glaze over these directions and attempt to transfer the entire thing with hot water to the oven). Bake pudding until just set – for me it took at least 25 minutes, possibly could’ve used more. According to Lea, the middle will be slightly runny on top and jiggly, but the bread in mine was sticking out and the custard was more pudding-like.
Remove baking dish from roasting pan and cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes. It can be frozen – just seal it tightly in a container. And trust me, it’s delicious for a few days after!