Dark & Sweet Bread Pudding

February 10, 2009 at 8:23 pm 12 comments

Roaasted Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding

In my search for seasonal sweets to celebrate Cupid’s big day, I immediately fell head over heels in love with this recipe the moment I laid eyes on it in my RSS feed.  Two of my favorite flavors in the entire world – pumpkin and dark chocolate – combined into a rich and comforting bread pudding.  But, to tell the truth, there was an immense foreboding in my mind as I chopped up my very last winter squash for the year.  I couldn’t stop myself from wondering, “Am I being greedy?  Is this demanding too much of the culinary fates to have both chocolate and pumpkin in one dessert?  Will the whole dish become a muddled mess of flavor that doesn’t satisfy either craving for warmly spiced pumpkin or intense 75% cocoa?”  

Butternut squash and chocolate

I know that the marriage of chocolate and pumpkin is nothing new, and I’ve actually enjoyed a pie made of both that was indeed quite tasty.  Generally  speaking though, this combo does seem to always disappoint ever so slightly.  But who am I to resist such temptations even in the face of possible folly?  To be completely blunt, I am somebody who has one hell of a weakness for both chocolate and pumpkin and thus no ability to resist. 

Chopped butternut squash

Let me just cut to the chase.  This bread pudding is ethereal in its complex balancing act of these two domineering flavors.  Neither diva gets to take center stage, but they both get to show off the best of their personalities.  I think it’s the thick cubes of sweet challah that we have to thank for that.   It cushions both the pumpkin and chocolate like delicate tissue paper keeping antique dishes from uncomfortably banging together.   That analogy’s not working for you?  Okay, the challah is like the moist layers in a wedding cake separating what would be otherwise overpowering and competing filling flavors like lemon curd and raspberry.   Long story short, this dish is utterly amazing.

Challah bread

Now, a word or two of advice on the two main ingredients.  First, use good dark chocolate here people.  Don’t go skimping by using up the last of the brittle Hersey fun-size bars from the kids’ Halloween party.   I have a block of outstanding dark chocolate I got from a gourmet bulk food store that nearly cost what some of us might put towards a monthly car payment.  But it was worth every penny because it tastes phenomenal and, as most everything bought in bulk is, it wound up being cheaper than the Hershey bar at the end of the day. 

Diptych

As for the “pumpkin”, you’ll notice I used a butternut squash.   It’s a lesser known fact that most any winter squash with a bulging collar at the base of the its stem where it connects to the body can be used for any recipe calling for pumpkin.  In fact, some – myself included – might argue that other varieties of winter squash make a better “pumpkin” than pumpkin itself does.   I’ll make this dish again sometime in the future with your standard orange seamed orb, but I’m fairly confident that it won’t be quite as good since the butternut squash used this time is more flavorful and just a tad bit sweeter so it stood up to the dark intensity of the chocolate. 

ooey gooey goodness

All debates and quandaries aside, I really must say this is probably my favorite dessert to date on SFTF.   Make yourself a generous bowl of real whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream beat on high with 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar until stiff peaks form)  to lather on top, and you’ll have nary a care or a craving in the world…until you hit the bottom of the bowl. 

Overhead of goodness

 

Roasted Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
Taken from What’s For Lunch, Honey? 

1 C. heavy cream
1 medium sized winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, etc.)
½ C. whole milk
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
½ C. sugar
6 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 t.ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/8 t. ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt
4 C. challah bread, cubed
½ C. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel the winter squash, remove the seeds and cut it into 2 inch chunks.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and lay out the pumpkin pieces in a single layer. Roast in the oven until soft, making sure the pumpkin does not get too dark, about 45 minutes. Purée roasted pumpkin until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, sugar, salt, eggs and egg yolk, and spices. In a separate bowl, toss the challah cubes with the butter, then pour in the pumpkin mixture. Mix to coat.

Transfer the bread mixture to an ovenproof baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle the coarsely chopped chocolate pieces, giving a gentle mix so that the pieces are evenly distributed.

Bake in preheated oven until set, about 30 minutes.  Best served warm but also tasty cold.  Store, covered, in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

(serves 4-6)

Entry filed under: Recipes, Sweet Treats. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. balladofyoko  |  February 11, 2009 at 10:36 am

    This sounds lovely. My guy loves bread pudding, and I love pumpkin/butternut squash, so this may be a match made in heaven!

    Reply
  • 2. Jason  |  February 11, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I am a tremendous fan of pumpkin! I was wondering, though, about how many cups of purée do you think a medium squash would make? I ask because I harvest, cook and purée my pumpkin in the fall and then freeze it in 8oz containers to have handy for recipes. I’d like to use the pumpkin I already have if possible. Please let me know.

    Reply
  • 3. Jason  |  February 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Sorry… another question: About what size ovenproof pan do you suppose would be appropriate? I don’t want the pudding to be too thin or too thick. I can’t tell from the photo what size dish you baked it in.

    Reply
    • 4. Jennie  |  February 11, 2009 at 6:43 pm

      Jason – Good questions… the baking dish size I used was about an 8 x 10 x 2. The original recipe didn’t specify so I just went with what I had and it seemed to work well. As for the amount of puree, mine came out to a little less than 2 cups. I’m pretty confident the recipe is forgiving though so a half cup more or less probably wouldn’t affect it too much. Love that you cook and freeze your puree in such an organized fashion! 🙂

      Reply
  • 5. Tammy  |  February 11, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    This looks fabulous!

    Reply
  • 6. Jason  |  February 12, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks for the reply! I’m exacting almost to a fault about baking, I’m afraid. Good to know that this recipe is forgiving, though!

    Reply
  • 7. Jason  |  February 16, 2009 at 8:30 am

    We tried this for Valentine’s Day and it was fantastic! Not a lot of chocolate, of course, but it’s such dark, rich chocolate that it’s just enough! I made a few alterations, though, to lighten it a bit (so that I could actually eat it and keep losing weight). I changed the cream to half and half, whole milk to 1% milk, only used 3 Tbsps of butter, and used a very moist but eggless bread instead of challah. It shaved off about 150 or so calories, but no one complained that it tasted like diet food! Thanks for posting the recipe!

    Reply
    • 8. Jennie  |  February 16, 2009 at 9:16 pm

      Jason – So glad to hear you liked it! And your adaptation sounds like a great idea! In fact, I think next time I’ll do the same now that I know I’ll be eating the whole pan in two days.🙂

      Reply
  • 9. Meeta  |  February 19, 2009 at 3:35 am

    Absolutely gorgeous! I am glad you liked this Jennie! It sure looks good and I am craving it all over again!

    Reply
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