This week we have another killer New Orleans recipe for you from one of Louisiana’s best restaurants. Red Fish Grill is a stop on the Louisiana Culinary Trails, which highlights the best cuisine Louisiana has to offer. We’ve brought you something on the sweet side to experiment with in your kitchen this time. Bread pudding is a New Orleans dessert favorite and there are a million and one ways to add a twist to this classic Southern treat. Red Fish Grill shows us how to bring bread pudding to a whole new level with the rich decadence of chocolate and New Orleans cooking flair. My fellow chocolate lovers, this one’s for you.
- 1 piece day-old New Orleans-style French bread,* about 23 inches long and weighing about 7-8 ounces, cut into half-inch cubes with crust on
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
- 1 2-inch long piece of vanilla bean
- 1 ¼ pounds (3 ½ cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 8 large eggs
- 1 recipe chocolate sauce, for serving
- 1 recipe white chocolate sauce, for serving
- 8 to 12 pieces almond bark, for garnish
*If New Orleans-style French bread is not available, you can get similar results using a sugarless, natural-yeast white bread with a low gluten content and a thin crust.
1. Scatter the bread cubes in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
2. In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine the cream, milk, and 1 ½ cups sugar. Cut the piece of vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape the tiny beans into the cream mixture. (Discard the scraped bean pod of add it to granulated or powdered sugar to make vanilla sugar.)
3. Bring the cream mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until the sugar dissolves, then whisking occasionally.
4. Add the chocolate chips and continue cooking until the chocolate is melted, about two minutes more, whisking frequently and being sure to scrape the pan bottom clean as you whisk. Remove from heat.
5. In a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk the eggs until frothy. Very slowly add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly so the eggs don’t curdle. Pour this custard mixture over the bread. Let the custard sit until cool enough for you to put your hands in it, about 10 minutes.
6. Once the custard is cool enough, toss the bread cubes with your hands, squeezing the cubes in the liquid to make sure all are well saturated. Cover and refrigerate overnight. About three hours before baking the pudding, remove the pan of pudding from the refrigerator, and evenly sprinkle the top with ¼ cup sugar. Let the pudding sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
7. Once the pudding has sat 45 minutes, seal the baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake the pudding until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean and the pudding looks solidified with no puddles of liquid on the surface, about two hours. Once done, it will also start developing a few, shallow cracks on top and there will be an irresistible smell of chocolate emanating from the oven.
8. Remove the pudding from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.
Serving Suggestion: Cut the pudding into eight to twelve equal-sized rectangles and place on heated dessert plates. Drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons of chocolate sauce on one half of each portion of pudding and the same amount of white chocolate sauce over the other half of the pudding. Position a piece of almond bark upright in the center of each serving for garnish.