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bread + custard = yum!

Comfort food means many things to many people. Bread pudding is comfort food for sure. Rich, warm, smooth, melt in your mouth comfort. I made this one for today’s CPA office brunch. The menu included the Breakfast Pigs in a Blanket, Bean and Roasted Corn Salad, (previous posts) this pudding, and an Orzo salad, which I shall post tomorrow. Happy Easter to everyone in Dave’s office, have a wonderful Sunday, you deserve it!

Chocolate-Bourbon Bread Pudding

15 to 16-ounce loaf brioche or challah
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half and half
8 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons quality bourbon
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove crust from bread, if desired, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Spread out on a couple of baking sheets and toast until just lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees.

Using the back side of a paring knife, scrape the vanilla seeds from the bean halves and place the seeds and the bean in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Mix in the heavy cream and half-and-half and place the pan over medium heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl and whisk until pale yellow in color and all of the sugar has dissolved. In a very slow and steady stream, whisk about 1 cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture and continue to whisk vigorously to incorporate well. Pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining cream and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened just slightly about 5 minutes.  Strain the sauce into a clean bowl and place that bowl into another larger bowl that contains ice and a small amount of water (an ice bath) to stop the cooking and cool down the custard. Once cooled to at least room temperature, stir in the bourbon. This custard is called a crème anglaise.

In a large baking or oven-proof serving dish, layer half of the toasted bread cubes and sprinkle with half of the chocolate chips. Add remaining bread cubes and top with remaining chocolate. Pour crème anglaise over the bread and press down lightly on the bread to submerge.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the pan and weigh down with another pan of the same size or slightly smaller. Pour water into the top pan to help compress the bread pudding mixture, and leave it at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Remove the top pan with the water and set it aside. Cover the bread pudding pan with foil and place it into a larger pan or baking dish. Pour the water from the smaller pan, that you’ve set aside, into the larger pan so that the water comes about halfway up the sides of the bread pudding pan, this is called a hot water bath.  Place in the 300-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until custard is firm and completely set. Serve immediately.

Serves 10 to 12

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1 Dave Hopkins { 04.03.10 at 7:07 PM }

Everything was great! I got a lot of compliments and thanks yous(on your behalf, of course)

2 Linda Hopkins { 04.03.10 at 10:54 PM }

Aw, happy to hear it 🙂

3 Sarah Larsen { 04.05.10 at 9:17 AM }

Thank for the wonderful brunch! Your food and hospitality is exquisite.

4 Linda Hopkins { 04.05.10 at 10:32 AM }

Sarah, thank you for the nice comment – it was my pleasure – hope you had a lovely Sunday!

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