Bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts, but I’m not crazy about the original formulation (with raisins), so I make several variations. This year I went with an old standby with a few tweaks to fit the ingredients my in-laws had on hand.
White and dark chocolate bread pudding is easy to put together and absolutely delicious. Its main advantage with respect to holiday meals is that it can go in the oven after the main meal is done (since oven space tends to be at a premium) and be fresh and warm from the oven by the time everyone is ready for dessert.
I normally make the sauce with Irish cream, as the original recipe calls for, but since there wasn’t any around, I used some of my father-in-law’s Bushmills Irish whiskey (which he graciously shared) instead. It turned out to be a great substitution, and in fact I don’t think I’ll make it the old way again! The only hitch in the works was that the sauce turned out a little lumpy for the first time, although I’m not sure whether that had anything to do with the substitution. It was silky smooth after passing it through a fine mesh strainer, though, so all was well.
White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce
Based on this recipe from Bon Appétit, November 2003
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whiskey
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons water
1 loaf of French bread with crust (about 12 ounces)
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cream, divided
1/2 cup whole milk
Bring cream, whiskey, sugar, and vanilla to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Mix cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl to blend, then whisk into the cream mixture. Boil until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Cool, then cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.*
For bread pudding:
Cut the bread into approximately one-inch cubes. Combine the bread cubes, chocolate, and white chocolate in a large bowl and toss to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla in another large bowl to blend. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups cream and milk. Add the cream mixture to the bread mixture and stir to combine. Let stand 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or spray a 13×9 glass baking dish with vegetable oil. Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared dish, spreading evenly. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 cup cream. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Bake until golden and set in center, 50 minutes to an hour. Cool slightly.
Drizzle bread pudding with sauce and serve warm.
* Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.