Why It Works
- Baguette or croissant has a sturdy crumb and yields cubes that hold their shape when soaked with the white chocolate custard.
- Toasting the bread cubes before assembly drives out moisture, which allows them to soak up more of the custard base.
Unlike an office job, where a resume and an interview can be enough to get on the payroll, applying for a culinary position usually demands a "try out". You pack your knife roll (or your icing spatulas and pastry tips if you're a pastry chef like myself), and head into a strange kitchen to be handed your assignment. Sometimes they just want to see if you can roast a simple chicken without bumbling it up, and sometimes it's like an episode of Top Chef, where you have to whip up a life-or-death masterpiece of a dish that will blow the mind of the head chef.
Such was the case when I was trying to nail the pastry chef spot at the White Hart Inn in rural Connecticut. I was asked to prepare a dessert that would work for the menu in their Tap Room, which is a cozy colonial tavern. I had the perfect dessert: white chocolate bread pudding. So I put on the white paper hat and the only available size 50 chef coat (which, if I can say something here, is arguably the least sexy thing a girl can wear, especially when paired with unisex checked pants—but hey, I guess I didn't pick this profession to look good), and I got to work.
An hour and a half later I presented the chef with this luscious white chocolate bread pudding. Served just warm, the creamy, custard-soaked bread cubes melt in your mouth while the exterior is just slightly crisp and caramelized. I find French bread or croissants to be the best type of bread to use here because the crumb can take a soaking without falling apart (I used a combination of both this time because that's what I had on hand). I also slightly toast the cubes in the oven first to dry out the bread so that it can fully soak up the delicious custard.
"To be honest, there is no real "secret" to this bread pudding other than that it's flavored with a heap of white chocolate."
To be honest, there is no real "secret" to this bread pudding other than that it's flavored with a heap of white chocolate. What the white chocolate does is lift the standard bread and butter pudding to high decadence but in a subtle, not in-your-face sort of way. The white chocolate heightens the butteriness of the pudding, and the creaminess of the chocolate adds a velvety texture to the custard that's divinely rich. Warm white chocolate bread pudding is the epitome of comfort dessert food.
As if this bread pudding isn't perfect already, I always pair it with a satiny white chocolate sauce to copiously drizzle over the top. Each spoonful of warm, soft pudding drenched in a pool of sauce is seriously like sex on a spoon. So much so that it perfectly pleased all who tasted it that day, and I got the job. Yep, sex sells. No matter how you disguise it.
For the Bread Pudding:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (for greasing pan)
9 ounces bread (croissant or French bread), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup (about 2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (see notes)
4 large yolks
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
For the Bread Pudding: Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter; set aside. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread bread cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake until edges of bread feels dry, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let pan cool on a wire rack.
In a medium saucepan, whisk milk, cream, and sugar to combine. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until scalding. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth. Let sit to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and egg to combine. Slowly whisk in warm milk mixture to combine. Whisk in vanilla. Add bread cubes and let soak, about 30 minutes, gently stirring occasionally.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until just set, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving, about 15 minutes. Leftover bread pudding can be reheated in the microwave.
For the Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat cream to just simmering. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth. Serve immediately.
8x8-inch baking dish
Using high-quality white chocolate really puts this bread pudding over the top. I use Ghiradelli or Callebaut chocolate.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 26g||34%|
|Saturated Fat 15g||76%|
|Total Carbohydrate 45g||16%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 30g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|