Tuesday, April 21, 2009
A solid choice.
Bread pudding may just be my favorite type of dessert. As children, my siblings and I were never really exposed to American desserts, save for the New York cheesecake that came with the meal at Charlie Brown's (it was a ridiculously good deal!) Maaaaaybe we would try some pie at my dad's annual company picnics at Marine World, but occasions were normally celebrated with cakes from Chinese bakeries in the area like Sheng Kee (something in the vein of taro cake or mango mousse when those came into fashion). We never even really considered ordering dessert at dinners out because it was well known by my sisters and I that dessert was just not going to happen.
When I started going out to meals with friends in high school, bread pudding was just never an appetizing name so anytime that showed up on the menu, my brain wouldn't even register that the dish existed on the menu. Granted, our options were limited the Elephant Bar, Chili's, and Applebee's where mud pies and skillet desserts dominate the dessert menu, but I really cannot recall seeing bread pudding on any of the chain restaurant menus available to us. How did I even know something called bread pudding existed then? I don't know. Perhaps it's just selective memory, but at any rate, bread pudding did not equate tasty in my mind.
And then pumpkin bread pudding happened.
For Thanksgiving 2006, I made a meal of sides and dessert (because roasting a turkey seemed daunting, and the sides are the best part of them meal anyway!), but didn't want to go with a traditional pumpkin pie. A recipe for pumpkin bread pudding popped up from Epicurious and because a self-proclaimed bread pudding dissenter actually loved this rendition, I decided to give it a go. It was so much easier than a pie could ever be, and so delicious to boot. The combination of bread, dairy, eggs, sugar, and of course pumpkin was beyond what I ever thought. I was a convert.
Bread pudding has since been ordered for dessert at countless meals, almost never displeasing. (Is it me, or is the dish nearly ubiquitous now?) When I saw that the Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding was selected by Lauren of A Baking Blog there was no doubt in my mind that I would be participating in this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe. A Dorie bread pudding? That's pretty much a guarantee for success.
The resulting dessert was delicious, but I may have been hoping for more. I dried out challah in the oven before pouring the custard mixture on top (though I don't know I would call it custard as Dorie does - it was just so thin!), omitted the raisins because people are notoriously picky about their presence in desserts, and added walnuts, because - let's face it - walnuts and chocolate are like peas and carrots. Perhaps I just favor non-chocolate bread pudding to the chocolate variety, or maybe I would have loved some banana lodged in between the bread cubes, but it didn't blow my mind. I do think that it tastes better on the second day, chilled, however, and maybe even the third -- I'll have to evaluate the situation when I get to work later. With a dollop of whipped cream.
Dessert for breakfast? All in the name of research.