Paper Chef is back! I’ve been following and sometimes participating in Paper Chef for years. It has been the longest running monthly blog challenge, but recently took a break to re-group. The challenge takes place over the first weekend of each month. Four randomly chosen ingredients are posted on Wednesday and due a week later. This month’s ingredients are chocolate, bread, lime and berries. These are a lot friendlier than some of the previous picks. In the past, we might have had duck or anchovies in there with the chocolate. Hmmm.
I was planning a bread pudding this weekend, since I’d bought a loaf that my husband described as “bunny bread,” meaning that it was too soft. I had been considering a savory mix of leeks and spinach or asparagus, but when Paper Chef arose, I thought I would try a sweet pudding. This was a complete experiment and I’m lucky that it worked out the first time since I’ve been racing around on deadline for a week out of the country. Once I had the idea for my submission, I had to get into “go mode,” and hope for the best.
When I make bread puddings, I typically use a substantial “country loaf” or sourdough cut into large chunks and this allows the bread to be noticeable in the final version. Given that I was using bunny bread and no substantial added ingredients, I let the bread dissolve in heated milk, which I also used to dissolve the semisweet chocolate. This created a mush to which I added vanilla (to spark the chocolate) and egg yolks. The other big deviation from my typical method is that I beat the egg whites until stiff and folded them in. Another lightener. The texture of the chocolate bread pudding was good, but I think that the stouter bread would have been interesting… maybe even toasted?
I cooked the puddings in 8 ramekins filled ¾ full, but you could use 6 since the mixture did not rise, or if it did, it sank again. I decided to make a lime crème anglaise, which was probably the most delicious part of this dessert. Simple, elegant, served cold over the tepid pudding, and topped with strawberries that I picked this morning at our CSA.
I’m happy. This was a successful dessert, and Paper Chef is back. Now I get to pack to leave town. Yikes, am I ever late!
Chocolate Bread Pudding with Lime Custard and Strawberries
Make the bread pudding. While it is baking, make the lime cream. To serve, top with sliced strawberries and dribble the lime cream on top.
Chocolate Bread Pudding
1 c milk
2 c finely torn fresh bread
¾ c semisweet chocolate bits
½ tsp vanilla
2 eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a kettle of water on to boil. Butter 6-8 one-cup ramekins. Locate a roasting pan or other shallow pan to hold the ramekins while baking.
Bring the milk to a scalding point (just before it boils). Remove from the heat. Add the bread and stir to dissolve it. Add the chocolate bits, a few at a time, stirring to melt. Let cool somewhat and add the vanilla and egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric hand mixer at high speed until stiff but not dry. Add some of egg white to the chocolate mixture to lighten it up and then fold in the rest.
Spoon the chocolate mixture into the prepared ramekins. Place them into a roasting pan, pour in boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins and bake for about 25-30 minutes until set. Remove from the water and let cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Lime Crème Anglaise
¼ c milk
¼ c heavy cream
Zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp sugar
2 egg yolks
Place a metal bowl inside a larger bowl or pot full of ice.
In a small saucepan, heat the milk, cream and lime zest just to the scalding point. Beat the sugar and egg yolks together, and add a little of the hot liquid to the yolks, taking care not to cook them. Continue to add the milk to the eggs until at least half is combined. Then mix all remaining ingredients together into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, or until the custard coats the back of a spoon. Pour into the bowl set inside the pot of ice, stirring it until cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.