There’s nothing quite like baking aboard to lend a homeyness to a cruising boat. And when you find yourself in cool climes—as we did heading up the inside passage from the Salish Sea to southeast Alaska aboard Del Viento, our Fuji 40—firing up the oven and filling the cabin with warm smells is a pleasure every time. It was in those cruising grounds that we began experimenting with bread puddings. Whether sweet or savory, variations of bread pudding are found in cuisines worldwide. You can use just about any kind of bread, but French bread or challah is best. Following the traditions of the Southern US, we lean toward the sweet version; we like French bread, and being chocoholics, this recipe is a favorite. The cinnamon adds a complexity that reminds us of Mexican chocolate. Because bread puddings can be served warm or cool, we didn’t stop enjoying them once we moved on to the tropics. In fact, being surrounded by cheap fresh baguettes upon landing in French Polynesia meant we tended to overbuy for our family of four. Day-old bread is ideal for bread pudding, and this recipe was always a popular way to consume the excess (slightly stale) loaves.
Chocolate Bread Pudding
- 1 large, slightly stale French baguette*
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3⁄4 cup cream (heavy or light)
- 4 eggs
- 8 oz. sweet dark chocolate, coarsely grated or chopped finely
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2-3 Tbsp. butter (for greasing baking dish)
- Powdered sugar (for dusting)
- Fresh mint (optional)
- Fresh berries (optional)
*About a 16-by-4-inch loaf; you need between 8 and 12 cups of bread cubes. Amount varies depending on consistency of bread.
Serves 6 to 8, depending on portion size.
Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Set aside. Grate or finely chop chocolate; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and eggs. Add and whisk in the grated chocolate, vanilla, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and cinnamon. Gradually stir in the bread cubes, making sure all pieces are well-coated. You want the mixture to stay a bit soupy; keep adding and stirring to coat pieces until all are covered and there’s still some liquid left. (Stop adding bread if you see that the mixture will get too dry—save the extra and make croutons!) Let sit for at least 30 minutes for the bread to absorb some of the liquid. Grease a medium-size baking dish and spread bread mixture into it. Bake at 350 degrees until the center is set and the edges are bubbly. Check after 30 minutes; if center isn’t set, bake another 5 to 10 minutes, but don’t dry it out! Best served warm, but let cool slightly before cutting pieces. Sift a bit of powdered sugar on top, and garnish with fresh mint and berries, if available. Or serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if available.
Preparation: At anchor
Time: 2 hours including cooking time
This recipe is not compatible with a nutty or seedy wheat bread or sourdough bread, but will work with any white-flour bread if you don’t have French bread or challah.