Bread pudding is a favorite of mine and one of the few desserts I can confidently bake without worrying about altitude issues. But there's no way I am making a pan without having a big group of friends around to help eat it. I may eat one piece and never plate another, but sliver after sliver will disappear until there is nothing left. So despite having already stuffed my guests with barbecue, grits and slaw tonight, they were served this yummy bread pudding for dessert.
I knew I wanted to use bittersweet chocolate and make a strawberry sauce with our abundance of beautifully ripe fruit. I looked at a number of recipes, then adapted this recipe from Food Network. As decadent as mine is, it is a heck of a lot less indulgent than the original! I replaced the bourbon with good vanilla, and their butter, bourbon and cream sauce with a light and fresh strawberry coulis.
Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding with Strawberry Coulis
For the coulis:
- 1 16-ounce basket of strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- strawberries, for garnish
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 teaspoon more for sprinkling
- 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
- 2 tablespoons best quality vanilla
- 2 large eggs plus 6 egg yolks
- 12 cups day-old challah bread, cut int0 3/4 inch cubes
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Combine the strawberries, sugar and orange juice in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to puree the mixture.
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Chill until cold, about 2 hours.
- Gently heat the milk, 1 cup sugar and the orange juice concentrate in a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking until the sugar dissolve. Let the mixture cool slightly.
- Whisk the whole eggs and yolks in a large bowl; then whisk in the vanilla and milk mixture. Fold in the bread. Cover and refrigerate until all the liquid is absorbed, at least 1 1/2 hours
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Stir the chocolate chips into the bread mixture. Spread evenly in the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake until the center is set, about 80-90 minutes.
- Allow the bread pudding to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan.
- Cut the bread pudding into squares. Put a swirl of the coulis on each plate, then top with the bread pudding. Garnish with strawberries.
Yield: 12 servings
Total time: 5 1/2 hours
Now for your public service announcement: When I was in Florida visiting my friend Jeana last month, I noticed that she was soaking her strawberries. When I asked her about it, she said that a friend who worked as an agricultural food safety inspector had told her that strawberries were treated with such toxic pesticides, they needed to be soaked in several changes of water before they were really safe to eat. The pesticide commonly used on strawberries is methyl iodide, a known neurotoxin. The EPA, under the Bush administration, approved its use. About the same time good ripe strawberries began to be available in our stores a week or so ago, I received an email from CREDO, a progressive network, encouraging me to communicate my concerns about methyl iodide to the EPA. The regulator is reconsidering its approval of the pesticide and is soliciting public comments. I've been soaking my strawberries for at least 30 minutes in 2-3 changes of water and I signed CREDO's petition.