JB made challah bread recently, but when he brought it into work to share today it had tragically gone stale. He suggested toasting it and eating it with plenty of jam, but I suggested he donate it to me and I would make a bread pudding for everyone to enjoy tomorrow. I wasn't sure exactly what kind of bread pudding I would make, but stale challah bread makes excellent pudding and I rarely have any stale challah sitting around. The few times I have made challah bread (or brioche which also makes great bread pudding) I have usually used it up within a day or two -- no chance for stale bread in my house.
Without a set recipe in mind, I jumped onto epicurious and started looking around. A few recipes jumped out at me, but I emailed a list of them to Chris and he picked this recipe -- he wanted a spicy rum sauce. JB objected to the texture of chocolate chips in the bread pudding, so I used a dark chocolate dove bar that I had left from the extreme brownies the other day.
I had a nasty cold today though and ended up spending most of the afternoon wrapped in several blankets on the couch. The ever-wonderful Chris made me homemade ramen and let me sit there. He also volunteered to make the bread pudding since he knew I felt awful. By the time we got around to making bread pudding I felt much better -- not even close to 100%, but at least better than death warmed over -- so we made the pudding together.
It is delicious. Crispy around the edges, soft in the middle. The ultimate comfort food. Eating a few bites of this hot from the oven with the rum sauce made me feel instantly better. I'm sure it won't be quite as good cold tomorrow at work, but it should still be good. The chocolate is present, but not overpowering. The spiced rum sauce is excellent -- sweet with cinnamon and a nice rum flavor. As usual, we used a high-quality rum -- the Patron Pyrat Reserve which has been aged 15 years. It's good enough to sip straight up, so it's definitely good enough for a rum sauce with plenty of rum flavor.
1 1-pound loaf brioche* or egg bread with crust, cut into 1-inch cubes
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups half and half
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
Whisk half and half, 1 cup sugar, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and salt in large bowl to blend. Pour over bread cubes in dish. Let stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing bread cubes into custard. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter over pudding; sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake bread pudding until puffed, brown, and set in center, about 1 hour. Serve warm with Cinnamon-Rum Sauce.
*Brioche is a golden, light bread made from egg- and butter-enriched yeast dough. It is available at French bakeries and some large supermarkets.1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup dark rum 1 tablespoon vanilla extract Melt unsalted butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add dark brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt and whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbling and smooth, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in dark rum and vanilla extract. Serve warm.
(Cinnamon-Rum Sauce can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat, whisking occasionally, before serving.)