If bread pudding is mostly bread, it makes sense that the better your bread, the better the pudding. I usually make my bread pudding with challah, the way Luther liked it best. For this book, I decided to mix things up a little. This recipe uses raisin-cinnamon bread for that hint of spice I love. The big secret, as with all bread pudding, is to use stale bread; otherwise, it will disintegrate in the custard.
1 quart half-and-half
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
8 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
One 1-pound loaf sliced raisin-cinnamon bread, stale or baked, cut into 1-inch pieces (see Patti’s Pointers)
Softened butter, for the dish
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Heat the half-and-half and granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Add 1 cup of the chocolate chips and let stand until the chips soften, about 3 minutes. Whisk well to melt the chocolate.
2. Whisk the eggs and vanilla well in a very large bowl. Gradually whisk in the warm chocolate mixture. Add the bread pieces and let stand, stirring occasionally, until the bread has absorbed some of the chocolate mixture, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
4. Spread the bread mixture evenly in the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips on top. Place the dish in a larger pan. Pour hot tap water into the larger pan to come about 1/2 inch up the sides of the dish. Place in the oven and bake until the pudding is evenly puffed, about 40 minutes.
5. Remove the dish from the pan and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Sift confectioners’ sugar on top. Serve in bowls, topped with the whipped cream.
Patti’s Pointers: For best results, the bread should be firm and dry. If you have soft bread, you have a couple of options. The day before baking, arrange fresh slices on a large baking sheet (they can overlap) and let them stand, uncovered, at room temperature, turning the slices occasionally, for at least overnight or up to 1 day. Or bake the slices, spread out on two large baking sheets, in a preheated 350°F oven until the bread is dry but not toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting up the bread.
Excerpted from the Desserts LaBelle by Patti LaBelle. Copyright © 2017 by Pattonium Inc. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.
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