Offer me bread pudding and I’ll take a hard pass. The thought of soggy white bread swimming in a pool of cream sauce sounds like an epic waste of calories. But as I work to expand my baking repertoire this year, I decided to dive into this mysterious dessert. Like, what really is bread pudding? What are you? What are you not? What can you be? Why am I talking to you?
I studied some recipes and baked a few disasters, thus proving that I, in fact, do not like bread pudding. Consider me crazy or delusional but so many of you told me you love it that I decided to give bread pudding one more chance.
Pull up a chair and listen up. Bread pudding can be delicious. REALLY REALLY DELICIOUS. And this is coming from someone who said nope!!!! to this dessert only a few weeks ago. There’s all sorts of ways to bake bread pudding, but this recipe– complete with buttery challah bread and real chocolate– is my favorite. My only regret is waiting so long to try it this way!
This chocolate bread pudding tastes like warm brownie squares, monkey bread, and French toast casserole all in one. Do I really need to continue? It’s intensely fudgy. Pair this with rivers of salted caramel, pockets of melty chocolate chips, juicy raspberries and fresh whipped cream on top… and you basically have a mountain of chocolate covered calories. I mean a mountain of underrated delicious texture that totally deserves a chance in your kitchen too. Don’t waste another second dismissing bread pudding. This dark chocolate bread pudding is legit!
3 PARTS TO CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
- Dark chocolate + heavy cream + milk. Use real chocolate here. You can grab semi-sweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, or unsweetened chocolate. You’ll need two 4-ounce bars, 8 ounces total. I used unsweetened chocolate because I knew I wanted to top the bread pudding with salted caramel and sweetened whipped cream. This bread pudding is so rich that you don’t want it over-sweetened. Heat the cream and milk (or you can use half-and-half) then pour over the chocolate and mix it all together. You’ll have a very thinned out ganache. Let it cool down for a minute so as not to cook the eggs.
- Eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, + salt. These 4 ingredients will be mixed into the chocolate + cream mixture after it slightly cools down. All of this makes your super chocolate-y custard. 🙂
- Bread. Want to know the secret to absolutely awesome bread pudding? It’s the bread. Now I didn’t make the challah from scratch, but you definitely can. You can also use brioche (you can make your own with this dough if you’re up for it!) or any rich bread you love. For something a little less heavy, but equally decadent, use a baguette. Whichever bread you use, the secret is to let it sit out overnight to dry out. It will soak up more chocolate custard sauce that way.
Let’s chop up our chocolate.
Pour the heavy cream/milk on top.
After the chocolate cream mixture has cooled, we’ll mix in the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt.
Here are our bread cubes. Remember, stale bread is best.
Mix the bread with half of the chocolate custard, then pour the remaining custard on top of it all.
Why are you doing it this way? So there’s more pockets of warm chocolate custard!!
For extra texture, I suggest an add-in or two. I highly recommend chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (pick up a third 4-ounce chocolate bar). These chunks of chocolate paired with the chocolate soaked bread is outstanding. I also like dried cherries, peanut butter chips, or chopped pecans.
Let the bread pudding sit before baking so the bread can soak up some of the custard. Simply wait 5 minutes, preheat the oven, and by the time the oven’s ready… so is the bread pudding.
I can’t say this enough: I loved the chocolate chips between the soft chocolate-soaked bread. And I can’t say this enough either: this tastes like a pan of warm brownies. But better.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN
Besides the texture and the whole “pan of warm brownies” element, what I love most about this dark chocolate bread pudding is its versatility. Do you have to add salted caramel? Of course not. Can you add chopped pecans and top with coffee ice cream? It’s encouraged. What about adding dried cherries or peanut butter chips? Go for it. As long as you follow this cream-milk-egg-chocolate ratio, you can really add anything you want.
I haven’t tried this bread pudding with the raspberries mixed into the unbaked bread pudding, but I’m eager to try. I just dotted a few on top for serving. I brought this over to my in-laws to taste since I’m not really a bread pudding connoisseur. They LOVED it.
There’s a few recipe notes, so make sure you read them before beginning. I PROMISE you’ll be a bread pudding fan after 1 bite. I certainly am! Does anyone have a traditional bread pudding recipe I should try? I’m still holding out hope!
Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream*
- 2 and 1/2 cups (600ml) whole milk*
- two 4-ounce bars semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped*
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 loaf day-old challah bread, cut into 1 inch cubes*
- 1 cup (190g) chocolate chips or 4 extra ounces chopped chocolate
- optional add-ins: 1 cup of chopped pecans, dried cranberries/cherries, peanut butter chips, etc
- optional toppings: salted caramel, fresh berries, homemade whipped cream
- Over medium heat, heat the heavy cream and whole milk in a medium saucepan until simmering. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil-- that's too hot!) Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Then stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Set aside for a few minutes to slightly cool down so as not to cook the eggs in the next step.
- Whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt together in a large bowl. Pour in the chocolate cream mixture and whisk until smooth. Divide this chocolate custard mixture in half. Add the bread cubes and chocolate chips to one half and stir to evenly coat.
- Grease a 9x13-inch (or similar size) baking pan. Spread the soaked bread evenly into the pan. Pour the remaining chocolate custard evenly over the top. If you have extra, dot a few chocolate chips on top too (this is for looks and extra chocolate taste!). Cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so the bread has a chance to soak up some of the custard. This is crucial. You can also chill the unbaked bread pudding in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Bake the bread pudding for 45-50 minutes* until the edges appear set. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. It will come out with a few moist crumbs, but won't be overly wet. *I bake it covered for the first 20-25 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil for the remaining time so it can slightly crisp on the top and around the edges.
- Garnish with toppings and serve warm.
- Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Serve leftovers warm, room temperature, or cold. We found that the bread pudding had a slight texture change when reheated. The custard was a little more solid and not deliciously soft. The bread pudding is best eaten right out of the oven.
Make ahead tip: You can prepare the bread pudding through step 3 and refrigerate for up to 1 day before baking. You can also freeze the baked bread pudding for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in the oven until warm throughout. See the last step in the recipe with notes on the taste/texture after reheating. I do not suggest freezing the unbaked pudding as the custard will separate when thawing/baking.
*I found the best combination of liquid to be 1 cup of heavy cream/heavy whipping cream with 2 and 1/2 cups of whole milk. Alternatively, you can use 3 and 1/2 cups of full-fat half-and-half. I do not suggest all whole milk or anything lower in fat. If you buy a pint of heavy cream, you can use the leftover 1 cup to make whipped cream to top the baked bread pudding. See step 6 in this strawberry shortcake recipe for how I usually make homemade whipped cream.
*Since you're essentially making a thinned-out ganache, it's best to use real chocolate. You can find the 4 ounce baking bars in the baking aisle. I like using Ghirardelli or Baker's brand. You can use 8 ounces (heaping 1 and 1/3 cups) of quality chocolate chips instead, such as Ghirardelli brand. I tested this recipe with unsweetened chocolate as I knew I wanted to top it with salted caramel and sweetened whipped cream. It was extra dark and not overly sweetened; we loved it. You can use semi-sweet, bittersweet, or unsweetened chocolate. White chocolate will work as well, though I would reduce the granulated sugar to 1/4 cup.
*You need around 1 lb of bread. I suggest a rich sweet bread like challah or brioche. You can also use a baguette. I don't suggest a heartier bread or sourdough bread as their flavors don't pair well with sweet bread pudding. Whichever bread you use, slice and leave it out overnight so it's stale and can really soak up the custard. Moist bread creates a soggy bread pudding.
You can bake the bread pudding in several individual ramekins. Adjust the baking time as needed.
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