Monday, April 20, 2009

****Chocolate Bread Pudding

It wasn't easy with so many great choices to choose from, however this sweet thing had just the right ring. I love bread and I love chocolate. Bread and chocolate. Wasn't that a movie? Easily, this could be my one meal to take to a desert (or dessert!) island. Luxurious.

For years, frugal homemakers saved leftover stale bread and moistened the cut up bite sized bread with egg, milk and sugar. A thrifty way to use up yesterday's bread. So, first the bread. Home made, or good quality bakery brioche. Additionally, I noticed on the P&Qs, challah, croissants, doughnuts and cinnamon rolls were creative choices for this as well. Wow, I want to try them all.

For the chocolate, semi sweet is the way to go. To get great flavor and value, Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% dark chocolate is where I put my money. Cube the bread, moisten and soak with the pudding mixture. Bake.

Thanks for baking along with me this week. Also, Upper East Side is moving.....I'm heading west to the Upper West Side. Name is changed to A Baking Blog. See you now and see you then.

Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours
By Dorie Greenspan

12 ounces bread (brioche, challah or white), preferably stale
1/2 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cherries (optional)
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cram
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped


Have a 9-x-13 inch baking pan at hand (a Pyrex pan is perfect here), as well as a roasting pan big enough to hold the baking pan and how water. Line the roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels

Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. It the bread is stale, put it and the raisins or cherries, if you are using them, into the baking pan. If it is not stale, spread it out on a a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and bake in a 350-degree-F oven to "stale" it for 10 minutes, then toss into the pan (with the fruit).

Bring the milk and cream just to a boil.

Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolks an d sugar together in a bow. Still whisking, slowly drizzle in about one quarter of the hot milk mixture--this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they don't curdle. Whisking all the while slowly pour in the rest of the hot milk. Add the chocolate and whisk it in gently until it is melted and the custard is smooth. Rap the bowl against the counter to pop bubbles that might have formed, then pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help cover it with liquid. Leave the pan on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for 30 minutes.

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. F.

Slide the pan setup into the oven and very carefully pour enough how water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the pudding is uniformly puffed, the top is dull and dry and a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

15 Minute Chocolate Amaretti Torte: TWD

I'm so glad TWD Holly, of Phe/MOM/enon selected this chocolate torte to bake this week. Cakes usually made with ground nuts are tortes and this made a perfect choice for the Passover holiday. The name of the cake really says what it is. 15 minutes! Done. Quicker to make than to run out and buy. Almonds throughout, almost fudge-like, like brownies. Balanced in flavor. Almond and chocolate. The torte's flavor gets its intensity with the crumbled Amaretti di Saronno almond meringue cookies. Those are usually found in Italian specialty stores in bright red tins. An additional splash of Disaronno liquor was added for good measure. Almond whipped cream is dolloped on top. Check out Dorie's post where she suggests making waffles with the same flavors.

Bake along with me next week as I select the Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding, on pages 410 and 411. Upper East Side Chronicle will also be moving to a new site A Baking Blog. Till then.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Banana Cream Pie

An American classic. A restaurant I used to make desserts and deliver to always featured this one on their menu. The food theme was Pan-Asian and the banana and spices gave it a semi-tropical kick! Some candied ginger was also added to the filling.

First the crust. Good for Everything IS good for everything! Now to assemble. Sliced bananas on the bottom. This will also keep the it from getting soggy. If you feel adventurous, add a layer of caramel! Then the custard. It's a spice custard with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and my addition was a hint of candied ginger. Nice touch. Then top the pie with dollop of sour cream-whipped cream. Just the right hint of tang. Thanks to our TWD host Amy of Sing for Your Supper for selecting this one. I would have chosen it too!

P.S. The one year birthday was last week. Happy Belated. The name will also soon change to A BAKING BLOG.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tropical Paradise: TWD

Hey there, we're back from spring break and a week in Florida. Visited the family and the saw the new baby. To keep the tropical theme going, TWD's Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch hosts Coconut Butter Thins. Not quite a shortbread, but a tender crumb and a buttery taste. Added lime zest, brightens the taste. The dough is delicate and a fully pre-heated oven and chilling are key to keep from the dough from spreading. Some spreading was experienced.

Last night, the cookie was filled with strawberry ice cream. Almost like a strawberry shortcake bar, not quite, but better.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Almost Pound Cake: TWD

A French yogurt cake is just the kind of cake to have around all the time. Flavored with lemon and almond, it's not too sweet and is moist and delicious. Topped with lemon glaze brings about the right tang. Almost like Sara Lee, but made with love. Our TWD host is Liliana, from My Cookbook Addiction who offered this selection for St Patrick's Day.

This was a quick cake to make and next time I'll make two, one to have ready and one to freeze.