Continuing on the coffee theme, here's a rich bread pudding that pairs one of my absolute favorite flavor combinations - chocolate and coffee. I remember the first time I had bread pudding, it seemed like the oddest thing to me. But when I got it, I fell in love - the bread had been transformed from something simple to something decadent, creamy in the middle and crisp around the edges, all full of chocolate but not too sweet. I was hooked.
Make no bones about it, this isn't for the faint of heart, or those trying to diet. It's full of dairy, eggs, bread, and chocolate. It's rich. And it makes a lot! But it is an awesome dessert, and it's done the way I like, which is just sweet enough, but not too sweet. I suggest a little whipped cream for topping, especially if you spike it with something like a coffee liqueur or bourbon. Or, for extra decadence (and as I have done here), some caramel sauce and coffee ice cream.
Use a good, very dark (70%-80%ish) or bittersweet chocolate here, it will make a difference. If you're looking to save a little dough (who isn't?), Trader Joe's has good dark chocolate for a reasonable price - both their own organic 73% super dark chocolate bar, and Valrhona. I am partial to both Green & Black and Scharffenberger when I'm feeling flush, but at over $20/lb, I don't spring for it all that often.
Mocha Bread Pudding
1 large loaf soft, day-old French bread
2 TB butter
1/2 cup plus 2 TB granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup coarse coffee grounds
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
Cut up your bread loaf into 1 inch pieces. Grease an 8x8 baking pan. Drizzle bread with melted butter and 2 TB sugar, toss to coat, and put into the pan. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, milk, and coffee grounds. Scald until small bubbles appear around the edges; do not boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.
Strain mixture, reheat slowly until fairly warm but not hot, and pour over chopped chocolate to melt (I gave the chocolate a head start in the microwave just to melt it a little). Let sit 5 minutes, and whisk. Let mixture cool. Add the eggs and remaining sugar, and beat well.
Pour over the bread, and set aside to soak in for 30 minutes, and up to an hour. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until bread absorbs mixture and pudding is mostly dry (it should still be moist). Serve warm or room temperature.