I have a confession to make: I don’t like warm desserts.
Warm apple pie, molten chocolate cake, fresh donuts. Those do not tempt me.
I know, I know, it’s weird. I’ve gotten comments like “how can you claim to be a dessert lover??” or “what if you put vanilla ice cream on top?” and “you’re crazy.”
But I can’t help it. I like my desserts served cold. I mean, I like apple pie and chocolate cake (donuts, not so much) – but I keep them in the fridge for a little bit and let them hang out there till they get to the temperature of my liking.
My preference for chilled dessert changed last weekend. And I have the Sunday Brunch at the Langham Hotel to thank for it. Let me back track a little bit…
I won a spot at the coveted Boston Brunchers January event and last Sunday, I joined 14 other lucky bloggers for a brunch feast. I’d like to think of myself as an expert buffet eater and I came prepared with a 5-step strategy: 1) scan the full buffet option first, 2) pick out the things I really, really like, 3) figure out which dishes are only available to that restaurant, or are specialties, 4) only eat a few bites of each dish, and 5) (maybe the most important) save room for dessert. With this in mind I scanned all the impressive offerings of the City Brunch. The Langham had everything from prime rib (something I really, really like) to the tons of desserts (more on that later) and the usual brunch options:
My top savory picks were actually non-brunch items, or what I would consider specialty dishes:
And as for dessert, oh I saved room all right. I wanted to try the things I truly wanted and uh, that turned out to be a lot:
Do you see that big glob on the left? That, my friends, is what convinced me that I actually like warm desserts. In fact, I sort of became obsessed with one. That was the CHOCOLATE CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING. And caramel sauce. *sigh*
I loved it so much that I was still thinking of it hours after our meal. So I decided to make my own version at home. This was the first time I ever made bread pudding, so I researched some recipes online and decided on a version from Food and Wine magazine. I didn’t have any croissants nor challah which is what the original recipe called for, but I had half a loaf of soft buttery brioche so I used that as the base. The original recipe may be found here, but I only made half (and just divided everything by two). This is the recipe I followed:
CHOCOLATE BRIOCHE BREAD PUDDING
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
One half loaf brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes
(Instructions copied from Food and Wine)
Butter an 8-by-11-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. In a medium glass bowl, microwave the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring between intervals.
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a simmer over moderately high heat. In a large bowl, whisk the whole eggs and yolks with 1/4 cup of the sugar, the vanilla and salt. Slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, then whisk in the melted chocolate.
Spread the [brioche] cubes in the prepared baking dish and pour the chocolate custard over the top. Press the [brioche] into the custard until evenly soaked, then let stand for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the bread pudding. Set the baking dish in a roasting pan and fill the pan halfway with hot water. Bake the bread pudding for 50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the dish from the water bath and let stand for 20 minutes.
It was delicious! I brought it to work the next morning and received many complements from my (hungry) co-workers. It was very custard-y in the middle and a little dry on top (next time I will make sure each cube is coated in chocolate!) but it was rich and warm and chocolate-y and satisfied my craving for Cafe Fleuri’s version.
(And, it was really good the next day, eaten cold…heehee)
I’m so glad I was inspired by the Langham Brunch to try my hand at chocolate bread pudding! I will definitely make this again.
Do you like warm desserts? What’s your favorite?