Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding

The great thing about croissant and chocolate bread pudding is that it can be served warm or cold and made from scratch or with a few shortcuts.  Here are some recipes for this rich, comforting dessert that is a crowd-pleasing choice for any occasion.

The Homemade Approach

For a homemade take on this dish, begin with 12 croissants.  Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish then break the croissants into 1-inch pieces and layer them in the pan.  Scatter in a mixture of ½ cup raisins and ¾ cup very finely chopped bittersweet (70% or higher) chocolate.  In a food processor combine 1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  After the ingredients are well blended mix in five eggs, one at a time, while the food processor is running.  Add 2 ½ cups heavy cream and pulse until the mixture is well-combined.

Pour the egg mixture over the croissants and chocolate, allowing it to soak for 8-10 minutes.  You will have to continuously push the croissants down to make sure you get even coverage.  Cover the pan with foil and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes to brown the croissants.  The bread pudding is down when the custard is set but still soft.  For a very special topping, soften 3 cups of vanilla ice cream and mix in two ounces of bourbon.  Place this mixture in the fridge the day before serving or early the same day to make sure ice cream is cold bust has more of a sauce texture.

The One-Bowl Approach

You can also make a delicious croissant chocolate bread pudding by whisking the ingredients together in a bowl and just pouring them over the bread.  Use an 8-inch square dish lightly greased with unsalted room temperature butter. Cut or break six large croissants into 1-inch pieces and set aside.  In a large bowl whisk together 6 large egg yolks, 2 cups whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg.  Add the croissants and 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate cut into chunks.  Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

Toppings

There is a wide variety of topping you can use to crown this delicious dish.  Try spiced whipped cream, chocolate ganache, whiskey sauce, different flavors of ice cream, or fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, pomegranate, cherries, or even kiwi!  For a true luxury, simply melt down some more bittersweet chocolate and add an orange liqueur or orange extract.  This chocolate orange mix is especially popular at holiday time and is reminiscent of the popular candy.  Use your imagination to come up with toppings that are equally as delicious as the chocolate croissant bread pudding itself.  As this is a versatile dessert you have a wide array of options for any taste when it comes to toppings and how you prepare the main dish itself.

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