Thursday, December 29, 2016

Brunch! And a Recipe for Chocolate Rum Bread Pudding

Last year, almost to the day, I wrote a post about how to do brunch for New Year's Day (after you wake-up late from all that post-midnight celebrating).  I think it's still completely relevant, so I wanted to remind you of the post as a refresher this year:

Additionally, I wanted to share a recipe for Bread Pudding that I made this year for Christmas Brunch.  I think this is my favorite bread pudding recipe of all because it comes out golden, puffy, and a little crispy on top while still thick and french-toasty underneath.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Chocolate Rum Bread Pudding

Note: This recipe was adapted to my tastes from an America's Test Kitchen recipe and is quite flexible.  If you prefer, you may use raisins instead of chocolate chips.  Simply soak them in the alcohol or some hot water to plump them up a bit.  Alcohol can be omitted or you can substitute some of your favorite flavored liqueurs.  I like to serve it with Maple Syrup like French Toast.  However, syrup may be substituted for some of the brown sugar to give it a deeper maple flavor.  Cubes of cream cheese tucked into the bread are also a nice tangy surprise.

1 large loaf Sturdy White Bread or Challah
2 cups Half & Half
2 cups Milk
3/4 cup Dark Rum or Bourbon
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups packed Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips
pinch of salt

3 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Cut or tear bread into 1-inch chunks.
3) Place half of the bread in the bottom of a 13x9 inch glass baking dish.  Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips over the bread.  Cover with remaining bread, followed by the remaining chocolate chips. 
4) In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar, salt, spices, and all wet ingredients thoroughly with a whisk until the sugar dissolves.
5) Pour wet mixture over the bread, pressing down on the bread so the mixture soaks-in evenly.  Allow to stand up to an hour so the bread can hydrate.
6) Sprinkle the white sugar evenly over the top of the bread.  Dot with cubes of butter.
7) Bake at 350 degrees until the top is brown and puffed and the center barely jiggles, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Prep it the Night Before!
To prepare this dish the night before, cube the bread and place it back into the bread bag to store overnight.  Combine the wet mixture in a 2-quart jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake vigorously to combine and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, while the oven is pre-heating, re-shake the mixture and assemble the casserole as described above.  Bake as normal.

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