Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Double Chocolate Bread Pudding:

So, lets see, I get my manuscript off to my advisor to review, think I have at least a week of down-time... and I get sick. And waiting for me when I get better... revisions! Gah, the last year of grad school really is a vicious cycle of writing and trying to have a life.

Oh well, I'm back now, and with a dessert that will definitely wreck any diet you may happen to be on. My history with this particular bread pudding goes back to the beginning of the year. Coming back from my winter vacation with my mom's forgotten bread maker, I now had the means to craft all sorts of breads in my rather busy and chaotic schedule. One such bread was a brownie bread that made for great eating all on its own, but I knew would make an excellent base for bread pudding. Of course, time went buy and I never got around to it (as usual). That was, until a few weeks ago when on Throwdown with Bobby Flay they had a challenge based on chocolate bread pudding.

In that episode, Flay had to best The Dessert Truck, a NYC food wagon specializing in desserts but best known for their chocolate bread pudding with bacon crème anglaise. He lost, over-complicating things by adding coconut and a passion fruit syrup. Both contestants, however, used normal white bread (ok, brioche) and made it chocolate by adding chocolate to their custard for the pudding. You can see where I'm going with this...

Double Chocolate Bread Pudding:

For the bread:
2 tsp. yeast
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg + 1 yolk
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup warm water
  1. Either put all the ingredients in a breadmaker and run on large loaf normal or follow the rest of the instructions.
  2. Add the yeast to the water with a pinch of the sugar to get it going. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Combine the egg, yolk, and butter in a small bowl and add to the dry mix.
  3. Pour in the yeasty water and mix for about 5 minutes to incorporate well. Incubate in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Knead dough for 5-10 minutes and incubate another 15.
  5. Add to greased loaf pans and bake in oven for ~45 minutes to an hour till set (No set time seems to work best for me).
  6. Leave the bread (no matter which way its made) out on your counter for a day (or two) to harden before trying to use in the pudding.

For the pudding:
Bread from above, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
4 eggs + 2 yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped up
  1. Combine the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan and heat over medium/high heat just till it bubbles, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate slowly and stir throughly to integrate.
  2. Whisk the eggs and yolks really well till they're pale in color in a large bowl. Slowly add the chocolate cream mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking.
  3. Add the bread cubes to the custard and toss thoroughly. Pour everything into a 13x9 baking pan, distributing the bread evenly. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F now.
  4. By the time your oven warms up, the custard will have completely soaked into the bread. Give the pan a jiggle to even things out, and then bake for 35-45 minutes (this depends on how dense your bread was, but you're looking for a firm top that gives a little when pressed).
  5. Find lots of friends to share with...

Brownie bread, just waiting for some custard.

The final, ungodly delicious product.

So, there you have it. Straight out of the oven, the top is all nice and crusty, while the bottom is like warm chocolate mouse. You could top it with some crème anglaise, but quite frankly, this is sweet and rich enough as it is to stand on its own. If you can't find people to help you eat this all right out of the oven, don't worry, after a day in the fridge, the whole thing turns into a homogenous creamy, chocolatey mass of awesome. As I said at the beginning of this, say good bye to your diet, at least for a week.

I'm hoping to have time to post again next week, but no promises about anything from now on. Hopefully by the time I do post you'll all have recovered from your sugar coma's after making this.

Mike :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Simple Tomato Soup:

This post is going to get to the point since I have a Friday deadline to get a manuscript out for review.


Simple Tomato Soup:
2 lbs. tomatoes
3 slices pepper bacon
1/4 onion, diced
3 cups chicken stock --or--
3 cups water + assorted chicken bits (wings, necks, etc.)
~2 tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
  1. Peel, core, deseed and chop the tomatoes into small pieces. You can use nearly any type of tomato here, I had a mix of yellow, red, and green from my garden. A good tip is to deseed over a strainer in a bowl so you can catch the juice and add it back in for more flavor.
  2. Cook the bacon in your soup pot till crispy and then drain on paper towels. Pour off the fat, keeping about 1.5 tbsp. Add the onion and tomatoes and cook until well broken down (~15-20 mins).
  3. Add the stock, or if you're out like I was, water along with some chicken pieces you usually use for making stock (you'll fish them out later, they're just there for flavor). Bring the pot to a boil and then let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring 3 times or so.
  4. After the 30 minutes is up, remove the chicken bits if necessary, and adjust the seasoning. When cooled down a bit, puree with an immersion blender or in a normal blender till smooth and creamy in consistency.
  5. Add milk to lighten the color and make it a little smoother. You can go with heavy cream here, but whole milk keeps it lighter and as long as you don't over heat it, won't curdle.
  6. To serve, top with some crumbled bacon and possibly some croutons (I prefer bread on the side, but thats just me).

Ok, so I've got another soup recipe to post some time, as well as some baking type recipes.. I'm hoping that once this manuscript is off I'll have at least a week to do something I actually want... No clue when next time will actually be, but till then...

Mike :)