Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Time to start planning that menu — and make sure you include a chocolate dessert! Chocolate is considered an aphrodisiac for two reasons. It contains tryptophan, which is a building block of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical that produces feelings of happiness. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, which is released in the brain when people fall in love.
For this recipe, I like using brioche, because it is a rich, delicate egg bread, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute challah or white bread (but not sourdough). Toasting the bread (or leaving it out overnight to become stale) allows it to soak up the delicious egg custard more readily. (Psst, wondering what to do with the leftover egg whites? Make Pavlovas.)
This recipe calls for Mexican chocolate, which contains sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. You can buy it in discs at the grocery store (I like Ibarra brand) but if you can’t find it, use regular chocolate and add a sprinkle of cinnamon, a tablespoon more sugar and a ¼ teaspoon more vanilla.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding with Kahlua Caramel Sauce
Chocolate bread pudding:
2 tablespoons melted butter and sugar for the pan
6 cups brioche or white bread without crusts, cut into ½-inch cubes
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1½ cups whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 ounces Mexican chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Kahlua (optional)
Kahlua Caramel Sauce:
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon Kahlua (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use the melted butter to grease a 9-inch by 12-inch baking pan. Then dust with a little granulated sugar, tapping out the excess.
- Place the cubed bread on a sheet pan. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the bread feels stale. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the 1/3 cup sugar.
- In a saucepan set over medium heat, heat the milk and cream until steamy, but not boiling. Turn off the heat and add the chocolates, salt, vanilla, and Kahlua. Stir until chocolate melts and the ingredients are well mixed.
- Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, while whisking. Gently fold in the bread cubes. Let sit for 5 minutes. Transfer to the baking pan and bake until nicely browned and set, about 30 minutes.
For the caramel sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil without stirring and cook until the syrup turns a deep amber color and just starts to smoke. At the first sign of smoke, remove from heat, and quickly and carefully add the cream (the mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir in the Kahlua.
- To serve, spoon individual servings of bread pudding onto a plate or bowl. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of caramel sauce on top. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
Bibby Gignilliat is the founder of Parties That Cook, a San Francisco-based culinary event company; www.PartiesThatCook.com.
Quick Cook: Mexican Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding for Valentine’s Day