Yield: 9 servings
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 45 min
1 cup whole milk
Two 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped into bits
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups day old, slightly dry French bread cubes (5 to 6 slices)
2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into tiny pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
freshly whipped cream, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x9-inch baking dish (or a similar size).
2. Scald milk in a heavy-bottom pan (do not boil). Stir in the chocolate until melted. Whisk in the cream. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the beaten eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Gradually whisk in the chocolate/milk mixture into the egg mixture. Set aside.
4. Spread the bread cubes evenly over the bottom of a buttered baking dish, and sprinkle the butter pieces on top. Pour the liquid mixture over the bread cubes and stir to coat the bread cubes with the liquid. Sprinkle nuts on top, if using.
5. Place the baking dish inside of a larger pan. Pour hot water into the larger pan so that it comes about 1-inch up the sides of the smaller pan. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
6. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream.
*Bakery quality bread makes for a better bread pudding.