I am not a huge fan of bread pudding. I like it, I don’t LUUUURRRVE it. So, why did I make bread pudding? Well, two reasons. 1) My daughter begged me to make cheese fondue last week, and I seriously miscalculated the quantities of how much bread we could eat. 2) My good friend Michelle Bernstein (of Michy’s Restaurant in Miami) makes the best bread pudding, hands down.
I tried Michy’s bread pudding 3 years ago when she invited me to eat at her restaurant. It’s the only dessert she has in her cookbook, “Cuisine a Latina” too. It’s that good. What I love about it, is that even though it is quite a rich and decadent dessert, it really doesn’t feel like it, and I think it has to be the addition of brandy, chocolate and the fact that it soaks up the custard for up to 48 hours. Booze and Chocolate. Two of my favorite things! Mixed together, even more yum factor. So, as I generally do, I tweaked her recipe a bit, (But I will give you the original and you can do as you choose!) by using cranberries instead of raisins, and using all of the brandy used to soak the cranberries instead of just a tbsp! I love the taste of a slightly boozy dessert, but if you prefer yours with a little less ripple, keep to the original recipe!
So here’s what you’re going to need:
1/2 cup raisins (or any dried fruit you like)
Grated zest of 1 orange (I used lemon and it was equally scrumptious)
1 cup brandy or sherry (but go to town, I think rum would even be amazing in this)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups diced (1 inch) soft crustless challah, brioche, or white bread (I used crustful baguette)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Vanilla Ice Cream for serving
Put raisins and orange zest in a small bowl, add the brandy, and let the raisins and zest soak, covered, in the refrigerator for 24 hours or up to 1 week.
Put the cream and half and half in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk one-third of the warm cream into the egg mixture, a little at a time, to prevent scrambling the eggs, then whisk in the rest of the cream mixture.
Add the bread to the bowl and stir to soak it with the custard. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours.
Put a rack in the center of the oven to 325F (170C). Butter six 4 to 6 ounce ramekins or baking dishes. Drain the raisins, reserving the brandy. Add the raisins and a tablespoon of the brandy to the bread mixture and mix well. Spoon into the prepared ramekins or baking dish. Sprinkle chocolate over the top of the bread puddings. Put the ramekins in a roasting pan and fill the pan with enough warm water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake, uncovered, until the pudding is just set, about 25 minutes; when you shake the pan, the custard should wobble for just a moment.
Remove the pan from the oven and carefully place the ramekins on small serving dishes. Serve the bread pudding hot, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream right on top.
From my kitchen to yours,