Inspiration from the Langham Hotel Brunch
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.
Special thanks to the Boston Brunchers crew and the nice folks at the Langham for the glorious brunch.
Do you like warm desserts? What’s your favorite?