Another Spring has come. We’ve spent three Springtimes here, but only one of those has been with the Soldier. Kind of odd, isn’t it, that I can tell people, “Oh, I’ve lived here for three years! My husband? He’s only lived here for two.” Odd indeed. Bread pudding is odd as well. Drench stale bread in milky eggs and serve it for dessert? Nothing more weird than that. Thankfully, this Raspberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding is the good kinda weird. My kinda weird.
Now, if you’ve ever heard me talk about it, you know I have an aversion to “white chocolate”. I don’t believe this chocolate-imposter should even be able to call itself “chocolate” any more than I should be able to call myself “youthful”. White chocolate possesses none of the qualities that make chocolate chocolate. It doesn’t have any cocoa solids, like, at all. That’s why it’s white. Cocoa liquor, which gets pressed into cocoa solids, is what turns into the legit chocolate. The bastard step-child remnants of cocoa butter get turned into Palmer’s lotion and the odious white chocolate.
Can you tell I have strong feelings about the stuff?
I used to eschew all forms of white chocolate, turning up my nose at the mere mention of the stuff. I’d scoff at Hector if he dared to suggest any dessert that contained even the slightest trace of it. I’d cringe every time he flaunted his love of white chocolate by lobbing a Zero bar onto the grocery store checkout belt. The “candy bar of abhorrence” is what it should be called. I said it. Alas, there was no use. Hector would smuggle in white chocolate anyway he could. He loves the stuff, contraband be damned, and I just had to deal with it.
One thing Hector didn’t care for, however, was bread pudding. Budín as it’s called in his native Puerto Rico was usually made with raisins (which he loathed) and scented with anise or cloves. I, on the other hand, adored bread pudding- just not flavored the same way. So what did your Royal Pettiness do? I took the bar of verboten chocolate, chopped it up and added it to a bread pudding with some nice, plump raspberries (my fave fruit).
It was genius!!! I took something he loved (and flaunted in my face) and I buried it into something he despised!! It was the classic double-cross.
The only issue: I loved it…and he loved it too!!!
Weirdness rears its ugly head yet again. The adulterated chocolate gets a reprieve in my book and bread pudding is salvaged in the eyes of the Soldier. Needless to say I ate crow…but, I also ate Hector’s white chocolate bar so, now!
Bread pudding came to the U.S. from the UK where it was a half-hearted attempt at giving the poor a dessert to indulge in. Stale bread was collected in kitchens and soaked in hot water, squeezed dry and mixed with sugar and spices. Thankfully, mercifully, we have evolved and now mix the stale (day old) bread cubes with cream- or in this case, cream and half and half. We’ve also escaped the suet-laden bread puddings of merry, old England. Can you imagine? “Let’s top off the meal with some sweetened beef fat!” Nummy.
The staler the bread, the better, as it allows the bread to absorb a good deal of the custard mixture. In a pinch, toasting the bread will have the same effect. Bread pudding is commonly made with plain ol’ white bread. Hopefully, you’ve checked me out long enough to know I don’t do “plain ol'” nothing. This brioche I use is rich, buttery, and fluffy…like me. Well, I’m not buttery or rich…never mind. The only breads I wouldn’t use in bread pudding are the heavily flavored loaves like Jewish rye or pumpernickel; sourdoughs also have a distinct flavor so I’d shy away from those as well. Stick to challahs, brioche, French baguettes, or other white breads for the best results.
Once again, a bain-marie (or water bath) is being used during the baking of this custard. As in the case of this cheesecake a bain-marie is used to regulate the temperature of the environment that the custard is exposed to. The boiling point of water is 212°F and because the dish in which the custard is baked is immersed in this water, the custard itself is baked at a very constant, and controlled temperature. This prevents it from overcooking or scorching- a travesty of the highest proportions.
I’ve omitted the ubiquitous raisin that my Spanish forefathers swore by in their bread pudding. First, because I hate raisins, and second, because raspberries, white chocolate and raisins? No thanks. The great part about this recipe is how easy it is to tailor it to your tastes. If you want to switch out the fruits, do so, it doesn’t require much to make this into a rum raisin bread pudding, at all! Sauces like Crème Anglaise which, in laymen’s terms, is the base for vanilla ice cream, usually accompany bread puddings. What I do when I don’t feel like making it from scratch is allow vanilla ice cream to melt and pour it over the bread pudding. I know, I know. I’m a wizard…or lazy, whatever.
Try your hand at white chocolate, I guarantee you won’t hate it folded into this bread pudding; and if you didn’t hate it before, you’ll love it even more.
What’s your food aversion? Does your partner share it or love to torment you with it like my beloved? Leave your comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
Raspberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding
Yield 10 servings
A unique flavor spin on an age-old dessert. Use stale bread for the best results.
6 1 1/2" thick slices of stale bread (brioche, french, or challah is recommended), cut into large cubes
4 tbsp melted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, beaten
1 pint raspberries
8 oz white chocolate (Guittard, Callebaut or Ghirardelli recommended), broken into small chunks
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Set a pot of water to boil and have a larger, deeper pan ready to use.
Grease an 8x8 baking dish (a 9x9" will also work) by brushing the bottom and sides with half of the melted butter.
Place the cubed bread into the baking dish and pour in the remaining melted butter. Toss to coat the bread.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the raspberries and the chocolate.
Pour the egg mixture over the bread and allow to soak for twenty minutes.
Fold in the raspberries and white chocolate gently and cover the pan with aluminum foil.
Place the baking dish into the larger, deeper pan and set it onto the oven's rack. Carefully pour the boiling water into the outer pan, filling the pan with water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the bread pudding dish.
Bake for 45 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the surface is nicely browned.
Remove the larger pan from the oven and set it onto your countertop. Allow the bread pudding pan to cool inside the larger pan (with the water). This allows the custard to stabilize and not separate whilst cooling.
Once cooled, serve or refrigerate. Bread pudding is best served warmed.
A quick Crème Anglaise can be made by melting your favorite vanilla ice cream! Pour over the bread pudding or serve with a scoop of ice cream on the side.
Try these other decadent desserts: