I had a really special motivation for giving a sweet, bread pudding a shot. I’ve made savory ones. I was actually supposed to make a savory one to accompany this. But instead, I screwed up the recipe by going a little too rogue and a little too Colin Mochrie, and improvising my way from a bread pudding to a mini casserole. Tasty. But not a savory tomato, basil bread pudding.
Thankfully, this recipe isn’t about that recipe. It’s about my own take on a bringing a chocolate covered strawberry to life in the form of a bread pudding. I think with an iteration or too, this can improve. But from concept to dish, I’m pretty happy with it. I hope the beneficiary finds some comfort in the ultimate of comfort desserts, as well.
The key thing for me was making this taste like a chocolate covered strawberry–which means for all the decadent chocolate, there had to be an underlying fruitiness and tartness in contrast. How’d I achieve it? By making the custard, and then stirring in a blended, half-a-basket of fresh strawberries (with a touch of sugar and milk to keep the blades whirring.
Here’s the full recipe with some photos.
- Bread. I can’t tell you how important the bread is. I had a whole wheat that I was going to work with but then I saw a chocolate cranberry at Whole Foods and went for it. Game. Changer. Get creative with your bread since it dominates the dish. (12 cups)
- Eggs (6)
- Milk (3 cups)
- Chocolate Chips (1 Bag)
- Strawberries (16 Large)
- Casserole Dishes (2, one that can fit inside of the other)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Cut the bread. Most folks I’ve spoken to about bread pudding go with 1″ cubes. For dessert? I say go with 1/4″ to 1/2″ because you have more flexibility on the presentation (muffin tins, casserole dishes, etc.) Lay them flat on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees. The goal is to dry out the bread, not necessarily cook it.
- Prep your strawberries. Cut half of the bunch into odd size chunks that you can stir throughout the pudding. Take the other half and put them into a blender and whir like the Dickens. This should be straight puree; something you can fold into the custard base for your pudding. Taste it when whirred. If you like it, great. If you want more tart, add lemon. If you want more sweet, add sugar. You get the drift. If you want more of something, screw nature and make it taste the way you want it to.
- Get your base ready. There are so many ways to make bread pudding. The easiest way for me to remember how to go about it is to think ratios: 1 cup milk to 2 eggs (1 full egg, 1 yolk only) to 3 cups bread. For this recipe, you see the ratio in the Ingredients above. Put them in a bowl. I don’t think you need any other flavoring here but if you want to toss in some sugar, salt, lemon, vanilla, and even a shot or two of bourbon, have at it. Once these ingredients are together, froth it like your favorite barista — a hand or immersion blender is your bff at this point. Blend first without the strawberry puree, and then do a second blend after pouring in the puree. This is the genius of my recipe. Strawberry all up in this house now.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. That gets its own step so you can check it off quickly and feel like you’re really moving at this point. Kind of like driving through Delaware on a trip to Florida. (“Really, we just crushed one whole state?”)
- Grease a baking dish (9×12) to start. Put in the bread. Go one layer. Then add diced strawberries and chocolate chips. Then slowly pour your base over the bread (about half used), making sure you spread evenly. Add another layer of bread, and repeat. Once done, let this stuff sit and soak for about 40 minutes (stirring gently at 20 and then again, gently, at 40.) At this point, you’re ready to bake. If you want to take this mixture and spoon it into muffin tins, go nuts. Spoon like nobody’s watching.
- Bake it. But cuddle it a little. Take the larger casserole dish and fill it 1/4 with water. Then rest the stuff you’re cooking in that water bath. Ban Marie. Great for terrines and custards, though the truth is, I’ve never made a terrine so the web could completely be lying to me. You’ll want to go at it for about 50 minutes straight. Slide the Ban Marie out, stick a knife in the center of the pudding and see if it comes out clean of everything other than chocolate. If it does, it’s ready. If it doesn’t keep cooking until it does. I had to go for 75 minutes because I went with a deeper dish. Variables. They change things you know?
- Let it set. When done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for 20. Then eat it in the best way possible — your way. I prefer taking the pudding out in a square and crisping the base on a skillet. Super wild contrast in flavors and textures at that point. But I don’t need or expect you to get it.
That’s the good word. I think it was a good bread pudding. I’d probably flavor the custard a bit more, be prepared to soak up some more of the custard with some additional bread, and perhaps think of a legit topping (strawberry glaze? more chocolate? powdered sugar?) I’ll let you know if I do by editing this in the future but my guess is, I won’t.
Pictures below to follow along if you’re interested.
Custard Base (with Strawberry Tint)
First Layer Assembled
(Note: I forgot to take a picture of this before I packed it for hand-off to a friend. It had to be storage ready so go ahead, hate me for crappy presentation. It will taste great and you’ll hate yourself for hating on me.)