Thursday, March 17, 2016

Belgian Chocolate Bread Pudding

Well, it's been a while since I've talked about bread pudding (you know, a whole month), so I figured I'd share the latest (and hopefully for our waistlines, the last for a while) variation on the theme that my Home Ec class and I created. In the spirit of the "Europe" unit I was covering in our "eating around the world" series, I drew on Belgium again, not only utilizing their invention of bread pudding as a whole but their love for (and definite ability to make) chocolate.

With the exception of maybe two or three of the kids in class, chocolate is the great equalizer between the ages, backgrounds and outside interests of the 33 youngsters - and being relatively young, their palates are still sensitive enough to develop appreciation for the nuances in different brands, percentages and forms of one of my favourite foods. In fact, a few of them truly impressed me by rejecting "milk chocolate candy" (i.e. your typical convenience store bars) in favour of higher-cacao bittersweet couverture callets and even squares of 72% Ghirardelli. 
 
#chocolate bread pudding for #breakfast? Don't mind if I do...
Muffin version - not nearly as gooey and rich

Bread pudding is definitely a great recipe to make with kids in general - first off, they get to tear the proverbial snot out of stale bread, something that even as an adult I enjoy doing (bonus if it's Challah, since the plaits make for perfect handholds). They get to whisk eggs (again, another magical activity I enjoy as an adult), squish in the bread and watch as the whole mixture turns from liquid | solid to one relatively firm, moist mass. The worst part for everyone involved (kids or adults!) is the waiting. First the 15 minutes before the pan goes into the oven, then another 40 while it slowly bakes to delicious, almost brownie-like perfection and a final 10 before being able to dig in. Yes, it's seen as a form of torture by some of the sweet teeth among us - but oh, the reward! Especially when you get a bite with a nugget of semi-molten chocolate. The only thing that would make it better is a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!  

Belgian Chocolate Bread Pudding
Ooey, gooey and perfect hot or cold!

As if I needed further proof this was a keeper, many of the kids (even ones who gave me the "oogie look" while we made the recipe) continued to talk about making and eating "those chocolate brownies" for weeks after the class. Hey, if brownies sells them, I'm in!

Belgian Chocolate Bread Pudding
Serves 12
9 oz stale Challah or similar enriched bread (I don't recommend French or Italian bread here, it falls apart too easily)
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups whole milk
⅓ cup vanilla (or regular) sugar
2 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
2 ½ tbsp melted butter
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I was lucky enough to have a can of decadent "red" cocoa at home, but any good quality one would work fine)
5 tbsp vanilla custard powder or “Cook & Serve” vanilla pudding
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (something between 60-70% is perfect) or couverture callets - you can use high quality chips in a pinch - as I did for my Home Ec classes, but they don't melt as well and are stiffer than "bar" chocolate when cool
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 9” square baking pan. Place the tin on a baking sheet.
  2. Tear the bread into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt until well combined.
  4. Add the butter, cocoa, custard powder and baking powder and beat well.
  5. Pour the custard over the bread and stir well. Let stand 15 minutes.
  6. Pour mixture into the pan and gently press the bread cubes with a spatula to compact.
  7. Sprinkle with chocolate chips
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 172.3
Total Fat: 6.0 g
Cholesterol: 40.5 mg
Sodium: 146.5 mg
Total Carbs: 19.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g
Protein: 4.7 g