Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Part of the problem, in our opinion, is that for many people both desserts are in memory forever linked with school cafeteria, summer camp, or, God knows, even prison. Maybe it's the institutionality of bread pudding and rice pudding that puts people off.
Certainly, a badly-made example of either one can be quite nasty stuff. Pasty and glutinous, ghastly white, jiggly, a plastic dish of either to top off an already dreadful meal can be the straw that broke the camel's back.
But if these dishes are prepared with quality ingredients and with attention paid to detail and to presentation, they can be heavenly. Still eggy and creamy, but with just the right amount of sugar and a minimum of starchiness, they can be worthy of a place alongside flan, egg custard and crème brûlée in the pantheon of milk-and-egg desserts.
Most bread puddings contain rough-torn pieces of stale bread, still recognizable as such in the final products. And spicing is restricted to cinnamon, with perhaps a touch of ginger or nutmeg. The bread pudding in this recipe, which comes from São Paulo restaurant Casa da Li, uses a blender to homogenize all the ingredients prior to baking, and adds chocolate to give the dish a whole new flavor profile. It's practically unrecognizable as bread pudding, and it's delicious.
If you are serving dinner to bread pudding haters and are feeling sneaky, don't tell them what the dish is (just tell them it's Pudim de pão from Brazil). After they've eaten it and lavished you with praise, it's then up to you whether to spill the beans about it being bread pudding or not.
RECIPE - Chocolate Bread Pudding (Pudim de pão ao chocolate)
3 day-old French rolls, torn into small pieces
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup seedless raisins, soaked for 15 minutes in hot water
1 whole egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of clove
pinch of nutmeg
1/3 cup creme de cacao chocolate liqueur
In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Bring slowly to a boil over medium-low heat. When the liquid reaches a boil, stir in the pieces of bread. Remove the pan from the heat and let the bread soak in the liquid for 20 minutes.
Pour the ingredients from the saucepan into a blender and blend until completely homogenized. Let cool.
When the custard liquid is cool, separate the egg and beat the white until it forms soft peaks. Lightly beat the yolk. Stir the beaten yolk into the custard, then gently fold in the egg white. Do not overmix. Finally stir in the raisins and the chocolate liqueur.
Pour the custard into a non-stick tube or bundt pan, place the pan in a baking dish and pour boiling water into the dish to the level of the custard. Place in a pre-heated 350F (180C) oven and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire cake rack and let cool completely.
Chill the pudding in the refrigerator for at least three hours. Unmould onto a decorative serving platter and serve immediately.
Recipe translated and adapted from Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.