Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Dovetailing off the Chicken Enchiladas I made for the Sho-Yu holiday party we had (yes, still a few months behind here), I wanted to share the dessert I made for the potluck!  I took advantage of hosting the party this year and picked a dessert that could be served hot out of the oven – bread pudding!  And not just any bread pudding – croissant bread pudding.  Sometimes I find bread pudding using bread (challah, brioche, etc.) can get a little too dense.  And let’s be honest – if you’re going to have bread pudding, you might as well commit to the buttery, flaky goodness that croissants can bring to the table!

I’ve been a fan of Michael Chiarello for a few years now, after Kevin and I ate at his Italian restaurant in Yountville, Bottega Napa Valley, which is still arguably our favorite Italian meal (including the ones we had IN Italy!).  I’ve also had the pleasure of dining at his tapas restaurant in San Francisco, Coqueta, where my favorite grilled octopus can be found.  He spoke at an event I worked on at Coqueta, and my boss at the time knew I was a fan and insisted on getting me a photo with him.

Best Buds – I Wish!

After some research online for just the right recipe, I came across Michael Chiarello’s Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding recipe, and couldn’t wait to make it.  I do admit that I made a few adjustments to it, skipping the raisins and bourbon as well as adding an extra 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 12 croissants
  • 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped small (I use Guittard chocolate baking bars for best results)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a blender or stand mixer*, combine butter and sugar process until well blended. Add cinnamon, and vanilla, and pulse to combine.  *The original recipe says to use a food processor, but it’s too much liquid for the food processor to handle.

    Sugar, Cinnamon, Butter, Vanilla
  2. While the mixer is running, pour the beaten eggs into the mixture. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides. Add the heavy cream and pulse to combine.

    Use a Blender Instead
  3. Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Break up the croissants into 1-inch pieces and layer in the pan. Scatter the bittersweet chocolate over the top, and gently mix to incorporate. Pour the egg mixture over the croissants; soak for 8 to 10 minutes. You will need to push croissants pieces down during this time to ensure even coverage by egg mixture.

    Ready for the Custard
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 10 minutes to brown the top. The croissant bread pudding is done when the custard is set, but still soft. Allow to cool. Serve with the ice cream of your choice!  I used Alden’s Organic Salted Caramel Ice Cream.
    Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

    I can’t wait for an excuse to make this again!

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Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

It’s the 4th of July and I’ve been holed up at home for the last three days with a respiratory infection.  I hardly ever get sick but when I do, that’s usually what it is.  Up until today, eating has felt like I’m dining on sand sprinkled with glass shards sauteed in acid every time I swallow.  And it all just takes like hurting…there is no flavor thanks to the congestion.  Then, there is the phlegm.  It is absolutely amazing the varying shades of color that post nasal drip can trigger.  On the bright side, I do think I’m slowly on the mend, though my voice still sounds like it belongs to someone who has been chain smoking for 30 years.

So who’s hungry?!

I’m so bummed I’m missing out on all of the 4th of July party shenanigans (e.g., eating like it’s my last day on earth), and while I’m not contagious, I just didn’t want to be “that” phlegmmy coughy person at the BBQ or Kevin’s family’s lunch.  So here I am, drinking hot tea to soothe my throat in my eighty-five degree apartment…trying to get caught up on the backlog.

Kevin and I hosted a belated birthday dinner at our place for Alex’s birthday back in February (dinner recipe deets forthcoming) and had to make sure we had something kick-ass for dessert.  With Lingie as chief dessert decision officer, we came up with a great idea for a chocolate banana bread pudding.  My favorite bread pudding is from Nook Bistro, as are a few other recipes I’ve tried to recreate through the years.  The recipe I found on Denica’s Cafe sounded like it would yield something similar at the time, though now that I’ve made and eaten it, I’m convinced Nook’s uses way more fat and maybe even a brioche bread.

I did make a few tweaks to Denica’s recipe though.  Chocolate chips usually have less cocoa butter than bars do, so they hold their shape in moderate oven heat.  That way, they retain their texture and shape in cookies, muffins, and other baked goodies without looking melted melt (even though the cocoa butter has melted). I wanted a big gooey swirly chocolatey mess with my bread pudding, so I chopped up a chocolate bar (dark instead of semi-sweet, simply out of preference) into chip-sized pieces.  If I were to make this again, I’d utilize bananas that are a day or two more ripe than what Denica recommended too, again for that gooey bread pudding texture.

Here is my rendition:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 loaf (16 oz) firm white bread or French loaf, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks and left out uncovered overnight
  • 3 ripe but still somewhat firm large bananas.  Use bananas that are a little ripe than what’s pictured below. Brown spots are fine!

    Key Ingredients
    Key Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/4 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2/3 C chopped dark chocolate chunks (I used bars of Cote D’Or)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Peel and slice bananas into 1/2 inch slices.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, half-and-half, and sugars until blended.  Gently stir in bread, bananas, and chocolate chunks to combine.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight, pressing down bread occasionally to absorb cream mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9″ round springform or cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep.  The pan will be very full.
  4. Bake bread pudding, covered loosely with foil, 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake 45 minutes or so longer, or until knife inserted in center of pudding comes out clean.  Cool pudding slightly on wire rack before serving.

    Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding
    Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

Check out that gooey swirl!  We served it a la mode, and I think it went over well with the birthday boy and fellow dinner guests!