It’s only been three weeks since Thanksgiving. In the inevitable push forward of the holiday season, that meal seems like a distant memory. I might be partly to blame for the rush to December. Instead of bringing pie or another traditional autumnal dessert to the Thanksgiving meal, I made bread pudding. Baked in a rectangular dish, this was an easy oven-to-table recipe to feed a crowd.
This year I just didn’t have the time to fool with a fussy dessert, and since there are no pumpkin fans in our family, I baked chocolate & cherry bread pudding. Cubes of buttery brioche were soaked in chocolate custard. I folded in dried tart cherries and semisweet chocolate chunks. With its crisp edges and gooey middle, I finished off the bread pudding with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.
Adapted from Gail Simmons
1 pound brioche or challah, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup dried tart cherries
8 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for greasing dish
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
Confectioners’ sugar for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch by 11-inch baking dish with butter.
Place the brioche in a single layer on a large sheet pan. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until toasted and light golden brown. In a small bowl, pour boiling water over the cherries. Once they plump up, drain the water.
Put the dark chocolate in a large bowl. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and then whisk in the milk and sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and pour over the chocolate. Wait 5 minutes before stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Add the brioche tossing to coat and let sit for 15 minutes before adding the cherries and semisweet chocolate chunks.
Transfer the brioche mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake until the pudding is set, about 50 minutes. Wait 10 minutes before serving. Bread pudding can also be eaten at room temperature or cold. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.