Chocolate Bread Pudding
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- 1 whole vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, seeds
- 3 cinnamon sticks (optional)
- 1 loaf brioche (about 1 pound, or you may substitute
- white bread)
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 oz Valrhona or other bittersweet chocolate, roughly
- chopped, plus 1/2 oz or 1/4 cupshavings for garnish
- 1 container (8 oz) créme fraîche
1. Heat the oven to 325°. Place the cream, milk, vanilla seeds and pod, and cinnamon sticks, if using, in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 30 minutes to infuse flavors.
2. Cut the frioche into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cute slices into quarters, setting aside the rounded top pieces. Fill a 9-by-12-inch gratin dish or a deep oval roasting dish (a nine-by-thirteen-inch glass baking dish may be used in place of a gratin dish) with the quartered pieces.
3. Return the milk mixture to a boil, remove from heat, and discard vanilla pod and cinnamon sticks. Add chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl, and whisk to combine. Pour chocolate mixture very slowly into egg-yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until fully combined.
4. Slowly pour half the chocolate custard over bread, making sure all the bread is soaked. Arrange the reserved bread on top in a decorative pattern, and press firmly so bottom layer of bread absorbs chocolate mixture. Spoon remaining custard over bread until completely covered and all cracks are filled. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the dish; press down to soak bread thoroughly. Remove plastic, wipe edges of the dish with a damp towel, and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Place gratin dish in a larger pan; fill outer pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the gratin dish. Bake until set, about 35 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
5. Whisk the créme fraîche until soft peaks form. Serve pudding warm, garnished with créme fraîche and chocolate shavings.