Monday, April 20, 2009

****Chocolate Bread Pudding

It wasn't easy with so many great choices to choose from, however this sweet thing had just the right ring.  I love bread and I love chocolate. Bread and chocolate. Wasn't that a movie? Easily, this could be my one meal to take to a desert (or dessert!) island. Luxurious.

For years, frugal homemakers saved leftover stale bread and moistened the cut up bite sized bread with egg, milk and sugar. A thrifty way to use up yesterday's bread. So, first the bread. Home made, or good quality bakery brioche. Additionally,  I noticed on the P&Qs, challah, croissants, doughnuts and cinnamon rolls were creative choices for this as well. Wow, I want to try them all.

For the chocolate, semi sweet is the way to go. To get great flavor and value, Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% dark chocolate is where I put my money. Cube the bread, moisten and soak with the pudding mixture. Bake.

Thanks for baking along with me this week. Also, Upper East Side is moving.....I'm heading west to the Upper West Side. Name is changed to A Baking Blog. See you now and see you then.

Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours
By Dorie Greenspan

12 ounces bread (brioche, challah or white), preferably stale
1/2 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cherries (optional)
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cram
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped


Have a 9-x-13 inch baking pan at hand (a Pyrex pan is perfect here), as well as a roasting pan big enough to hold the baking pan and how water.  Line the roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels

Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.  It the bread is stale, put it and the raisins or cherries, if you are using them, into the baking pan.  If it is not stale, spread it out on a a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and bake in a 350-degree-F oven to "stale" it for 10 minutes, then toss into the pan (with the fruit).

Bring the milk and cream just to a boil.

Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.   Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolks an d sugar together in a bow.  Still whisking, slowly drizzle in about one quarter of the hot milk mixture--this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they don't curdle.  Whisking all the while slowly pour in the rest of the hot milk.  Add the chocolate and whisk it in gently until it is melted and the custard is smooth.   Rap the bowl against the counter to pop bubbles that might have formed, then pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help cover it with liquid.  Leave the pan on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for 30 minutes.

GETTING READY TO BAKE:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. F.  

Slide the pan setup into the oven and very carefully pour enough how water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding pan.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the pudding is uniformly puffed, the top is dull and dry and a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.   Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

15 Minute Chocolate Amaretti Torte: TWD

I'm so glad TWD Holly, of Phe/MOM/enon selected this chocolate torte to bake this week. Cakes usually made with ground nuts are tortes and this made a perfect choice for the Passover holiday. The name of the cake really says what it is. 15 minutes! Done.  Quicker to make than to run out and buy. Almonds throughout  Almost fudge-like, like brownies.  Balanced in flavor. Almond and chocolate. The torte's flavor gets its intensity with the crumbled Amaretti di Saronno almond meringue cookies. Those are usually found in Italian specialty stores in bright red tins.  An additional splash of Disaronno liquor was added for good measure.  Almond whipped cream is dolloped on top. Check out  Dorie's  post where she suggests making waffles with the same flavors. 

Bake along with me next week as I select the Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding, on pages 410 and 411. Upper East Side Chronicle will also be moving to a new site A Baking Blog.
Till then.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Banana Cream Pie

An American classic. A restaurant I used to make desserts and deliver to always featured this one on their menu. The food theme was Pan-Asian and the banana and spices gave it a semi-tropical kick! Some candied ginger was also added to the filling.

First the crust. Good for Everything IS good for everything! Now to assemble. Sliced bananas on the bottom. This will also keep the it from getting soggy. If you feel adventurous, add a layer of caramel! Then the custard. It's a spice custard with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and my addition was a hint of candied ginger. Nice touch. Then top the pie with dollop of sour cream-whipped cream. Just the right hint of tang. Thanks to our TWD host Amy of Sing for Your Supper for selecting this one. I would have chosen it too!

P.S. The one year birthday was last week. Happy Belated. The name will also soon change to A BAKING BLOG.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tropical Paradise: TWD

Hey there, we're back from spring break and a week in Florida. Visited the family and the saw the new baby. To keep the tropical theme going, TWD's Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch hosts Coconut Butter Thins. Not quite a shortbread, but a tender crumb and a buttery taste. Added lime zest, brightens the taste. The dough is delicate and a fully pre-heated oven and chilling are key to keep from the dough from spreading. Some spreading was experienced.

As an added bonus, strawberry ice cream filled the cookies to make a better than Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bar. Perfect size and big taste. That's refreshing!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blueberry Time: TWD

Spring Break this week and we're in Florida visiting family and attending one spring training game! Hosting this week's Blueberry Crumb cake is TWD baker, Sihen from Befuddlement by Sihen. I must admit, this was my first visit to her site and liked her blog, especially the music add-on.

Batter was quick and easy. Some additions to the batter were: squeezed blueberries to make it more berry-berry. Another plus was the double-yolk surprise! Everyone liked the blueberry crumb, and it was soon gone.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Almost Pound Cake: TWD

A French yogurt cake is just the kind of cake to have around all the time. Flavored with lemon and almond, it's not too sweet and is moist and delicious. Topped with lemon glaze brings about the right tang. Almost like Sara Lee, but made with love. Our TWD host is Liliana, from My Cookbook Addiction who offered this selection for St Patrick's Day.

This was a quick cake to make and next time I'll make two, one to have ready and one to freeze.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Luscious Lemon: TWD

Creamy lemon custard is meant to be a team player. This week's dessert is selected by TWD baker Bridget from The Way the Cookie Crumbles. Spoon desserts are a perfect complement to contrasting textures. Lemon-clove flavor, topped with berries and a tuille. Cereal (Cinnamon Puffins), also make for good crunch. Try sorbets too.

East to prepare, and with a minimum of ingredients, milk, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and cloves, the milk is first heated below the boiling point and steeped with zest and cloves to intensify the flavor. In a separate measuring cup, the eggs and sugar are whisked together, tempered with milk, strained, then combined with milk. Baked in a water bath, then to-rest, and chill-to firm.

Custards, flans, puddings, creme brulee, pot de creme all share the same type of ingredients, except for varying proportions of milk and/or heavy cream, eggs and/or the addition of yolks and technique. At it's simplest, as Dorie suggested, it's an after-school dessert. A bit of nourishment for the middle of the day.