This recipe, adapted from pastry chef David Guas's "DamGoodSweet" cookbook, is absolutely terrific. You might think there is too much liquid in it while you're making it, but that is what makes the pudding so lush. The original recipe called for 5 1/2 cups of milk, but if you don't happen to have that on hand, a quart of milk plus 12 ounces of evaporated milk works well.
Guas serves his pudding with bourbon caramel sauce, which is lovely, but some heavy cream poured over it is also tasty.
Make Ahead: The pudding can be baked a day or two in advance, then reheated, covered, in a water bath in a 350-degree oven until warmed through.
Servings: 12 - 16
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 pound brioche, or plain or almond croissants, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 large eggs
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (may use bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped)
- 4 cups whole milk
- 12 ounces (1 can) evaporated milk
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use the butter to grease a 9-by-13-inch rectangular or oval baking dish.
Place the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. When they have cooled, fit the pieces together in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
Lightly beat the eggs in a liquid measuring cup. Place the cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate chips in separate medium bowls (the chocolate bowl should be heatproof).
Heat the whole milk and evaporated milk, cream, sugar and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the pot, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract; stir to combine. Pour the hot milk mixture over the bittersweet chocolate chips. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth to form a ganache.
Whisk 1/2 cup of the warm ganache into the cocoa powder until smooth, then add another 1/2 cup, whisking until smooth. Add the eggs and whisk to incorporate. Stir the egg mixture into the remaining warm ganache until completely incorporated. Pour all but 1 1/2 cups of the mixture over the bread in the baking dish and allow the bread to soak up the custard for an hour at room temperature, pressing down on it with a wooden spoon every 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, add the remaining ganache mixture.
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Boil a kettle of water.
Place the baking dish inside a large roasting pan. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and cut several slits in the foil to allow steam to escape. Place in the oven, and pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come 1 inch up the side of the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the pudding has puffed and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Uncover and let sit for several minutes before cutting into portions.
Serve warm, with caramel sauce or heavy cream, if desired.
From Guas's "DamGoodSweet" (Taunton Press, 2009).
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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