I Wanted to Love It
September 18, 2008
Are you a bread pudding person? I finally have to admit that I think that I am not. Sadly. Because it seems that anything involving such a decadent combination of eggy bread, thick heavy cream, a couple nests’ worth of eggs and a small mountain of sugar should be a hold-the-presses sort of affair. But instead, I’m just left thinking, “meh.” I want to like it. Really I do. But, instead, I end up thinking how I could’ve traded in the same list of ingredients for a couple delicious bowls of ice cream and a stack of French toast (byo maple syrup, though with this particular bread pudding ingredient list, you could always just douse the French toast with Frangelico; just an idea!).
Bread pudding just seems like it should be such a good idea. So comforting and rich. So beautiful, especially just out of the oven when it’s swollen and golden and fragrant. But I think it’s the culinary equivalent of skinny jeans or mini-skirts or knee-high gladiator sandals: just not for me. Luckily this particular bread pudding was the end to a nice, lazy dinner with two of our friends who we haven’t seen in too long. So there was much catching up, slide-showing, Cubs game watching and, yes, wine drinking to make up for the non-show-stopping (at least for me; everything else seemed to think it was fine) dessert.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Now, I know I’ve severely impaired my credibility on matters of taste when it comes to bread pudding, but I’m going to weigh in on this recipe anyway. As far as bread puddings go, this one was perfectly fine. Lovely, even. I think my slightly-better-than-mediocre verdict on this version has quite a bit to do with the shards of chocolate and bits of toasted hazelnut woven between the cubes of challah. And the subtle Frangelico dancing in the background pitched in too. I suppose I figured that if I was going to give bread pudding a shot, I might as well combine it with one of my beloved flavor combinations: chocolate and hazelnut. And it almost worked. Almost.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Bread Pudding
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 1-pound challah, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
8 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Combine the bread cubes, chocolate and hazelnuts in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Whisk eggs, whipping cream, milk, sugar, Frangelico, vanilla extract and almond extract in large bowl to blend. Pour over bread cubes. Let stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing bread into custard mixture. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake until pudding is set in center, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.