Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding

10 to 12 slices bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes, to yield about 6 1/2 cups bread cubes*
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) cocoa, unsweetened baking cocoa or Dutch-process
3 cups (24 ounces) milk or half and half
6 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*A 1-pound loaf of bread or brioche should yield about 6 1/2 cups bread cubes.

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish, 9″ x 13″ pan, or equivalent; our heart pan (pictured above) works well here.

Toss the bread cubes with 1 cup of the chopped semisweet chocolate, and place in the prepared pan.

Combine the remaining chopped chocolate with the sugar, cocoa, and 1 1/2 cups of the milk or half and half in a saucepan set over low heat.

Cook, stirring, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is thickened and smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, and whisk in the remaining milk or half and half. Whisk in the eggs, salt, and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and let rest for 30 minutes or so at room temperature, until the chocolate custard has been absorbed by the bread. While the pudding is resting, preheat the oven to 325°F.

Bake the pudding for 45 to 50 minutes, until it’s set. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes to allow the custard to fully set before serving. Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream, or dusted with confectioners’ sugar.Yield: 10 servings.


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