Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding

When planning for Christmas Eve dessert this year, I wanted something easy yet decadent and delicious.  My mind went straight to bread pudding because I could easily assemble and bake it, then bring it with us to my in-laws.  I just popped it in the oven to reheat for a bit before serving.  So this dessert is decadent for several reasons, one – the brioche bread is amazing, two – the dark chocolate is so smooth and rich, and three – heaps of fresh fluffy whipped cream just make any dessert better.  Martha originally suggests serving this with creme fraiche, but I thought that might be too heavy…as if whipped cream is any lighter.  I forgot to bring the heavy cream, so we whipped up some chocolate sauce to drizzle on top, which was awesome as well.  We had lots left over for Christmas Day dessert so we had whipped cream with seconds, and I was a major fan.

You only need a very small serving, so this easily serves a large group.  Bread pudding might be one of my new favorite desserts, I have several recipes I’d like to try.  Any favorites to share?

You will need:
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk (I used skim)
1 whole vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped
3 cinnamon sticks
1 loaf brioche (about 1 pound)
12 ounces roughly chopped dark chocolate, plus some shavings for garnish (I love Trader Joe’s pound plus dark chocolate)
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 325°.  Place the cream, milk, vanilla seeds and pod, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover with foil, and let sit for 30 minutes to infuse flavors.

Cut the brioche into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut slices into quarters, setting aside the rounded top pieces. Fill a 9-by-12-inch gratin dish or a deep oval roasting dish with the quartered pieces.

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.

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 and place in the oven.  Fill outer pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the gratin dish and bake until set, about 35 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes.

Beat the heavy cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Serve pudding warm, garnished with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Serves: 10+
Time: 30 minutes + 35 minutes baking time
From: Martha Stewart

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