Chocolate Bread Pudding
- 1 (12-inch) piece day-old baguette, cut into 1/3-inch slices, then slices halved crosswise (4 cups)
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 10 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
- 6 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
- Accompaniment: unsweetened whipped cream
Generously butter a 2 1/2- to 3-quart soufflé dish. Put bread in dish.
Heat half-and-half, sugar, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and add chocolate, then let stand 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Lightly beat eggs together in a large bowl and slowly add chocolate mixture, whisking until combined. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over bread and let soak at room temperature, pressing bread down occasionally, 1 hour.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.
Dot top of pudding with butter bits. Bake in a hot water bath until edge is set but center still trembles slightly, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool pudding to warm in dish on a rack. (Pudding will continue to set as it cools.)