Apple & Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
Stacks of paper flood desks, drawers, cabinets, nightstands and even chairs. Mornings once filled with frivolous sips of coffee and moments passed with little purpose until I wander off to a nine to five are replaced with hurried gulps in between busy work. Market analyses, environment analyses, mornings spent staring at numbers and words once so foreign.
The sun rises higher in the sky, mugs are emptied and replaced with more coffee, and emptied again. Speculation and research come together to form careful plans. Analysis becomes the foundation of an experiment quickly growing into what could be years of adventure.
A quick lunch is scarfed down and my eyes begin pacing over pages and pages of numbers. My creative-inspired, “the man”-hating mind struggles to comprehend what I’m looking at. A snack and numbers become formulas, recurring patterns that lend credibility to a dream I am chasing on paper.
Lunch and coffee is replaced with unhealthy snacks and more caffeine in all sorts and forms. Numbers, formulas, plans, analyses flood my busy mind. I stare at ingredients, parts that seemingly mean nothing on their own. A spoon in one hand and an apple in the other; a dream of owning a business in my heart and a nearly complete business plan sitting on my hard drive. After nearly half a year of living so many different parts of a plan, the big picture comes together. I am left with little doubt that the leap I am about to take will come to fruition; I know in my heart and mind that I’m finally ready to stop planning for my dream and begin making it happen.
A recipe mirrors my own place in life. Ingredients I have not yet paired come together in my mind as a potentially exciting combination. I research classic and contemporary flavor profiles, examine recipes I can adapt, and taste each of the ingredients on their own. Then I try them together. My tastebuds are tantalized. I organize my kitchen, prepare all the ingredients and begin building a new recipe.
Busy, happy moments in the kitchen pass by and soon I am sliding an assembled bread pudding into the oven. I can only wait and hope; despite careful planning my nerves get the best of me on game day. Then I slip my spoon into the soft chocolate and apple bread pudding. I take care to scoop up a little bit of each part. A taste, a moment savored and my hard work pays off. More bites follow and I know I’ve achieved a kitchen success.
I take a plate stacked high with tart apple and dark chocolate bread pudding, sitting in a big puddle of bourbon cream sauce, back to my makeshift office in my breakfast room, and get back to the numbers, the planning and the preparation for what will be a year of chasing dreams.
Tart Apple & Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
Bread pudding started centuries ago as a way to use up old bread. Even in modern times many chef’s believe that the purpose of this scrumptious dessert is to use up stale bread. You can use any bread you have lying around to make this recipe. The breads I have included in this recipe are the breads I used and work wonderfully in this recipe.
If your bread is particularly stale or dry you can avoid the toasting step. I used fresh bread though, so it is necessary to toast it first – this ensures the bread will absorb the custard.
If you don’t like very dark chocolate, you can substitute the chocolates I use for a slightly sweeter chocolate.
9×11 baking dish
Chef’s knife/bread knife
Heavy -bottomed pot
Fine mesh sieve
Heavy dish about 9×11
12 ounces challah (or similar sweet egg bread), cut into 1 inch cubes
12 ounces cranberry pistachio bread (or similar fruit & nut bread), cut into 1 inch cubes
2 ounces butter, melted
1 pound granny smith apples, peeled & chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
6 ounces unsalted butter
6 ounces sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 ounce unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup milk, heated to the scaling point
8 eggs, at room temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces 99% cocoa chocolate bar, finely chopped
4 ounces dark (60% or more cocoa) chocolate bar, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cream
1. Preheat an oven to 400°F. Butter the bread cubes with the 2 ounces melted butter and lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake the bread cubes for 10 to 12 minutes until toasted and just barely browned. Set aside.
2. Heat the 6 ounces of unsalted butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the cubed apples and cook for 5 minutes until the apples begin to soften.
3. Add the sugar, orange zest and cinnamon to the pot with the apples. Continue to cook the mixture for another 5 to 10 minutes until the apples begin to turn translucent.
4. Strain the apples from the liquid, saving the liquid in a large bowl (this will become the custard). Set the apples aside.
5. Add the cocoa powder to the strained sauce and mix in until evenly combined.
6. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, to the chocolate sauce and mix until combined.
7. Add the warm milk to the sauce/custard slowly, mixing it in completely. Add the vanilla and stir in.
8. Begin assembling the bread pudding by arranging a flat layer of bread in the baking dish. Be sure that the bread is tightly packed so there are no gaps. Spread half of the chocolate and half of the apples on top of the bread. Pour half of the chocolate custard over the first layer slowly.
9. Repeat step 8 to form a second layer, using the rest of the bread, apples, chocolate and custard.
10. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of the bread pudding. Using a similar size and shape dish, lay the dish, with a heavy item in the dish, on top of the parchment paper so it will compress the bread pudding. You may want to place the bread pudding in a baking sheet as extra custard could pour over the sides during this step.
11. Let the bread pudding rest for 1 hour at room temperature, with the weighted dish on top. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
12. After an hour, remove the weighted baking dish and parchment paper. Bake the bread pudding in a preheated oven for 35 minutes.
13. Let cool until it is room temperature. Serve warm, at room temp. or cool, depending on your taste. Store in the refrigerator.
You can serve this bread pudding on its own or with a bourbon cream sauce, which pairs excellently with the flavors in this dish. You can also served the bread pudding with a chocolate sauce.
Bourbon Cream Sauce
This is adapted from a Bo Friberg recipe and will yield 2 cups of sauce.
Difficulty: Intermediate (While this recipe is straight forward, it requires a lot of constant whisking.)
Stand mixer or hand mixer
3 egg yolks
2 ounces sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1. Place the egg yolks, sugar and bourbon over a simmering bain marie. Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage (the mixture will be very thick; when you lift the whisk, the mixture stuck to the whisk will slowly fall back to the bowl in thick ribbons).
2. Off the heat, whisk in the vanilla extract. Whisk the mixture constantly until it is cool (you can do this part in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer).
3. Once cool, the mixture should appear even thicker. Set aside.
4. Whisk the heavy cream until it is very thick (stop before it reaches soft peaks). Fold the cream into the bourbon mixture.
5. Store in the refrigerator.
You can serve this sauce at room temperature or cold.