Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Bread Pudding

My name is Elizabeth, and I'm a bread pudding-holic.

Hi, Elizabeth!

I first experimented with bread pudding in college, at a cozy restaurant called The Press in Claremont. I enjoyed it and ordered it on a regular basis, but I was able to control my intake and considered my bread pudding consumption to be at a healthy level. I was what you might call a recreational bread pudding eater.

My actual addiction started a few months ago, when we introduced bread pudding to our menu at the bakery. Our bread pudding is made with toasted croissants, soaked in a vanilla and almond-scented custard and baked with semi-sweet chocolate chunks until golden and crunchy on top, and moist inside. Making bread pudding involves mixing the bread in with the custard by hand, so I constantly found myself elbow-deep in huge bowls of soaking croissants. The first time I made it, I gave myself a little taste, purely as a quality-control measure, you understand.

I was immediately hooked. When first mixed, the croissants retain much of their texture, so you get buttery, slightly crunchy bread soaked with a sweet vanilla-almond liquid. The contrast of tastes and textures is amazing. I had one, two, three bites at a time. I literally couldn't put it down...and this was the unbaked mixture! Soon all I could think about was my next bread pudding fix. If I didn't have any for several days I became nervous and irritable, jonesing for my next bite of that sweet sweet nectar.

I would like to say that I've recovered, but the truth is that I'm still in the throes of addiction, and this week's TWD recipe didn't help matters. I love bread pudding so much, I'm not even put off when it comes out of the oven looking like the vomit of Satan:

Seriously, could there be a more unappetizing picture in the history of desserts? Matters improve only slightly with a cosmetic dusting of powdered sugar:


On to the recipe itself. In my extensive bread pudding baking experience, I would say that this recipe is in the Top 5 of those I have tried. It's much wetter than most bread puddings I've made in the past, and I thought the addition of a water bath was unique (and maybe unnecessary?). If I were to make it again, I'd cut the liquid by at least 1/3 and try omitting the water bath, to simplify the recipe. I added chunks of chocolate to the bread, and I liked the resulting pockets of chocolate in the pudding, but I wished for more texture, so next time I might add toasted pecans or walnuts.

Dorie recommends eating it cold, but I liked it much better warm, actually--and it reheated like a dream. I used croissants in mine, since they were easier to find than brioche, but I think brioche might have kept its texture better with all that liquid, so I'll try and track down brioche next time. Still, the croissants performed admirably:
I tried to eat as much of this bread pudding as possible, going by the theory that I would get so sick of it, it would cure my addiction. I am sorry to report that this course of action didn't work, and I was left with an empty bread pudding dish, a full stomach, and an intense craving a mere 12 hours later. However, I am currently 2 days clean and am trying to live one day at a time. Thank you all for your support.

[Confidential to my fellow LA-ites: I must warn you about the worst bread pudding I've ever had. Last month I had the misfortune to try some from a Santa Monica restaurant that shall remain nameless, but it starts with an "H" and ends with an "uckleberry Cafe," and it is, believe it or not,well known for its bread pudding. Unfortunately, the bread pudding was more like a bread flan, it was so extremely eggy. And it was not sweet, at ALL, so the end result was like the mutant baby of a sponge, an omelet, and chewy paste. Am I conveying how awful this was? To add insult to injury, nearby tables were happily gumming their way through this bread pudding, and no doubt rushing home to yelp about how rad and retro it is and lure more innocents into paying for the privilege of not eating it. Consider yourselves warned.]

26 comments:

  1. Glad you liked this pudding, I wasn't crazy about it....

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  2. Oh I woul love to try the recipe you mention from the bakery, wow!

    I am a fan on vanilla custard bread pudding, but I really liked this one too. It was even better drizzled with chocolate sauce or cream anglaise!

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  3. LOL!!! I really liked this but you're right, it was a little too wet. Glad you liked it :)

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  4. Um, where do you work? I'm coming up to LA just to try your bread pudding!

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  5. i almost spit out my coffee reading your "vomit of satan" description...you are hilarious!!!!

    I've also heard about "H" cafe's bread pudding ... good to know not to waste my calories (or my moolah) as I'm not a fan of flan-textured sweets. On the otherhand, their maple bacon biscuits are too die for...yum!!!!

    Nice job Liz!

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  6. Vomit of Satan...perfect.

    So glad you liked it.

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  7. That, lady, was one hell of a post. I loved it! And to think, a BP Addict like yourself found it to be too wet, as I did - and needing something to chew on. I felt exactly the same way.

    I don't live anywhere near CA, so luckily I am no where near that un-named cafe. Thanks for the warning...but even from Virginia, I think I may be close enough from the sounds of it. Gross.

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  8. So funny - I'm going to be in Santa Monica this weekend! Know where NOT to eat. And yeah, I love bread pudding too. But I just didn't have the time this week. I don't know how I feel about chocolate in it. But I do know how I feel about croissants, and that is IN LOVE WITH.

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  9. My name is Elyse, and I'm a bread pudding-aholic, too. I guess I'll be seeing you in our weekly meetings. In fact, I'm pretty sure seeing your pictures set me back a few steps. The craving is definitely there now, and I'm totally going to give into it. I mean, everyone knows I have no self-control when it comes to a tasty combination of croissants, chocolate, and custard. Man oh man, I don't care what you say about your pictures being "ugly," they're totally drool-worthy to me!

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  10. I loved this, too. Somehow mine was not too liquidy (don't know how I managed that). Your post was hysterical!

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  11. I liked this much better warm too, and I feel much better that an honest to goodness bread-pudding-a-holic agrees with me. I think yours looks just like bread pudding is supposed to look, and if that's Satan's vomit, so be it. I know I'd be going back for seconds, thirds, etc. of your pudding!

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  12. Love, love, love your post. Too funny! I'm in need of a 12-step program for all Dorie desserts!

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  13. Hahaha - oh so funny. Although croissant can make a convert out of anyone, huh?

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  14. One day at a time. Take one day at a time. And accept the things you can not change.

    I'm glad you liked it and coming from a bread pudding addict, that's saying a lot.

    Me, not so much, I tried and thought it was okay. I may imbibe socially but that's it. :P

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  15. I totally agree that it was darn near impossible to get a decent photograph of this dessert. It tastes so good, it deserves a bit more visual appeal....

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  16. This was my first time trying bread pudding and I'm a total convert after this recipe :) You're right, though - it has to be one of the least photogenic foods ever!

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  17. Just think.... you life may never be the same. So funny, loved your post and I hope your feeling better soon. Maybe you and Pop-eye should get together. he he Dorie will be so happy that you loved her CBP
    AmyRuth

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  18. Your bread pudding looks great. I just hope you get a sponsor to help you...and don't look to me for help! :) Thanks for the hint the restaurant - haven't been there but now I know what NOT to order!

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  19. Great post. Love it. Can you call someone? For help. 1-800-NO-MO-PUD or something. I'm here if you need someone to talk to.
    I did add almonds to mine and loved the little crunch here and there, also orange flavored chocolate. It was good! Not pretty, but good!

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  20. Hilarious post! You have such vivid powers of description -- I was drooling as you described your restaurant's recipe. Then I cracked up over the "vomit of Satan" (agreed, it sure isn't a pretty dessert). And your description of the bread pudding from "H" was so thoroughly distressing...
    Thanks for a great read!

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  21. I'll have to join you in rehab - because I loved this dessert too!

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  22. Bread Pudding Addiction. Have you considered BP Anon so your family can help you maintain the addiction. Seriously!! And your pudding looks grand enough to cause addiction.

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  23. Thanks a lot, you made me snort and shriek with laughter. Anything to cover up the sound of cracking more eggs for another vat, I mean teeny tiny ramekin of chocolate bread pudding. I didn't think I liked bread pudding before this one, but now M. and I are both calculating how many calories we need to save to have some more. Do you think I have a problem, or am I a casual BP user?

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  24. A dusting of powdered sugar always helps. Been hearing great stuff about this so I know it must be delicious.

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  25. Liz, Thanks for stopping by my blog. I picked up my Brioche in the South Bay at the Giuliano's Delicatessen and Bakery in Gardena.
    1138 W Gardena Blvd
    Gardena, CA 90247
    (310) 323-6990

    (Get the torpedo sandwich while there!) Also, Gardena is the original and I've heard that the Torrance location with the same name is a different owner. I don't know if they have brioche. I called Gardena before picking it up so they put it aside for me. I don't remember exactly, but it was under $6.00 for the huge loaf.

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  26. I graduated from CMC in 2000 and ate at The Press all the time (though never bread pudding.. hm...). Which of the 5Cs did you go to? And how strange to meet a Claremont Alum in the blogosphere!

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