We are very excited to introduce the new lovely addition to the bakery family – Charlie the Chocolate bread. A sweet but savory loaf with lots of nuanced pepper character with also bittersweet chocolate chips! Yes – I said chocolate chips but see, you want them, even in the savoryness as they punctuate the pepper and add space to the texture. Though a recent reviewer (these taste testers are a very willing bunch), a 6 year old faerie child – says that with butter, it tastes like ice cream. Of course, we were all convinced at that point (I would believe anything this child tells me) but the applications are so much more. Another chocolate bread maker I read about does toast and crumb the bread over ice cream, which sounds like a swell idea, too.
This bread has the potential to be treated like pumpernickel with classic flavors of aged cheese or sour cream and would go lovely with our Roasted Roots with Figs, Goat Cheese & Almonds recipe, stronger cured or roasted meats like pastrami/pork belly/lamb or even roasted chicken and anything with a bit of char, it would go great with Rock Bottom Chili, and rich stews in general, like a red wine base beef stew or a hearty pot of Maple Baked Beans.
Here today we add more more to this repertoire; a simple but sassy dessert bread pudding – I know, it seems on the nose, but this bread brings a new sophistication to a classic and since somewhere on this blog we have a smashing savory bread pudding (great for our Panem Domus or even the new Polenta Chili) we do not have a sweet one yet! This one is inspired by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann. With us finishing up boiling our Maple syrup, I can’t think of a better combination. Enjoy!
Chocolate & Maple Bread Pudding
1/4 cup dried cranberries (craisins) or chopped dried apricots/currants
1/4 cup raisins or chopped figs/dates/dried plums
16 cups cubed day-old bread
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 cups whipping cream
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup chopped & toasted pecans
1/2 cup Maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dried fruits of choice in a bowl and cover with hot water if needed (some figs/apricots/plums are very plush and will not need a soak) for 10 minutes or so.
Butter a shallow 16-cup baking dish or 9×13 pan (I use my 12″ cast iron skillet and it works wonderfully). Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar then stir in cream, nutmeg, vanilla, orange zest and juice. Add bread cubes and stir until bread looks thoroughly saturated. Let sit 10 minutes.
Then pour soaked bread into baking dish. Drain fruits and scatter evenly over bread, along with pecans (can sort of stir/stuff into nooks and crannies, if desired). Cover with foil.
Place baking dish in a large roasting pan or deep baking sheet and pour enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the bread dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and puffed, about 15 minutes. Pour Maple syrup over top and let stand for about 10- 15 minutes.
This is great with an after dinner (or daytime, heck – a brilliant brunch!) coffee or tea.