Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding. With Bailey's. Er, Shannon's Irish Cream Blend. ; )

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding. With Bailey's. Er, Shannon's Irish Cream Blend. ; )

I blame Food Network. Chopped was on, and one of the contestants made bread pudding. I don't remember what the basket ingredients were, I think they might have been an old car tire, shaving cream, and durian. But I remember hearing the words "bread pudding", and then I remember hearing one of the snobby chick judges say she NEVER liked seeing bread pudding on the show, it should never be presented as a dessert (or presumably anything else).  That sold me on making it, no one should ever disparage the simple homey pleasure of bread pudding! Luckily for me, I had the ingredients on hand; I saved all the bread scraps from the heart shaped canapes from my birthday party; I'd chopped them into 1/2" cubes, put them in a ziploc bag, and threw them in the freezer for either bread crumbs or stuffing.  I also had Ghiradelli chocolate scraps from the chocolate I'd melted and spread on a sheet to cut out the chocolate hearts from to decorate the red velvet cheesecake.  For bread pudding, I just had to mix an egg with some cream, add cinnamon, vanilla, a pinch of salt, and stir everything together.  I didn't make a sauce for it, so I topped it with homemade Irish Cream Whiskey, also leftover from my party.  I think I might never made a bread pudding sauce again! ; )  (Eh, who am I kidding, the whiskey butter sauce is to die for. yay! : )

Basic Bread Pudding Recipe

4 cups cubed bread, stale or a few days old is best.  White, wheat, french, brioche, all are happy.
4 eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional add-ins:
Pinch cloves
Pinch ginger
Pinch cayenne
1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries, currants, or other dried fruit;
1/2 cup walnuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Note: If using dried fruits or chocolate chips, reduce the sugar in the basic recipe to 1/2 cup or it will be too sweet.
Note: If using more than one add-in, reduce the amount of each so that there is only 1/2-3/4 cup of added in stuff, otherwise there is too much stuff and not enough bread pudding. ; )

In a bowl, beat the eggs, then add the milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. (If using optional spices or peanut butter, they also get mixed in during this step.) Add in the bread cubes, and mix to combine. Push the bread into the mixture, it will soak up the liquid. Depending on the dryness of the bread, this might be a few seconds to several minutes.  If need be, set it aside for up to half an hour to soak in.  Add in any of the optional add-ins, stir just to incorporate, and then pour the mixture into an ungreased 2-quart square baking pan (because you go to hell if you use an oblong or round pan).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool slightly .  Serve warm with Whiskey Sauce.

Whiskey Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 beaten egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon, whiskey, or rum

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, egg yolk, and water. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat; stir in alcohol. Serve warm over warm bread pudding.

Really, the add in options are endless.  I've done apple, walnut, and cloves; banana, peanut butter, and chocolate chip (the Elvis special); cranberry, walnut, and chocolate chips;  chocolate chip and walnut; cranberry and orange.  Depending on the mix-ins, the sauce may need to be changed or omitted altogether.

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