Bread pudding with pears and chocolate is the ultimate comfort food. Drizzle this cozy fall dessert with homemade salted caramel sauce for a special treat.
Handyman Tim is finally home after a very, very, very long work trip. The girls and I have been surviving on a lot of frozen pizza, mac and cheese, and simple dinners. I find it so difficult to gather the energy to cook elaborate meals when he is gone since it seems like such a waste of food when we have the equivalent of 1.5 persons eating it.
The moment he returns I head back to the kitchen and we eat like kings for a few days. What better way to welcome him home than with some of his favorite foods and yet another stab at his favorite dessert--bread pudding. I've tried and tried to make a good bread pudding. It has been his birthday/special celebration request several times and I have yet to find a recipe that is "perfect" in his "very high standards" eyes.
While our search for the perfect bread pudding continues, I personally think this delicious pear and chocolate version beats out any other attempt by a mile. The topping is perfectly crispy and a little bit sparkly with the sugar dusted over the top before baking.
I used our favorite challah bread, sliced very thin vs. cubed like other variations of bread pudding that I've tried.
Thinly sliced fresh ripe pears are also layered amongst the bread slices. 3 oz of bittersweet chocolate is chopped and sprinkled on the bottom of the pan. It melts and forms a nice dark layer beneath the pudding.
I know the best bread puddings usually have a little drizzle of sauce to go with them. I made a batch of our family's very favorite homemade vanilla bean salted caramel sauce recipe and it was the absolute perfect finishing touch.
Could someone please push that bread pudding off to the side so I can lick the serving plate clean of the caramel? Thanks.
I should note that though bread pudding isn't usually a big hit with kids, my Little Pea thought this dessert was absolutely fantastic. She loved the sweet juicy pears and gobbled it up.
Minus the chocolate and caramel sauce, I would feel ok about serving this as a breakfast casserole for a special occasion, too. But then again, if the occasion is "special", maybe leave the chocolate.
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 ½ pounds firm ripe pears (We enjoyed Bartlett)
- 7 oz challah or brioche bread, cut into ½ inch slices and then cut in half diagonally
- 3 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp fine salt (not Kosher)
- 1 tbsp sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Spread a tablespoon of softened butter all over the inside of a shallow 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle the bottom of the dish evenly with the chopped chocolate. Core and slice the pears into thin pieces and prepare the bread slices.
Arrange the slices of bread in the dish, alternating each slice with 3 or 4 pear slices. Make sure the dish is filled from side-to-side so it bakes evenly.
In a large bowl, gently whisk together the eggs and egg yolks, milk, cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the mixture evenly over the layered bread and pears and let the entire dish sit for 5 minutes so the bread can absorb some of the liquid. Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining tablespoon of sugar to give the dish a nice sparkling crunch.
Bake the bread pudding until the bread is puffed and the custard is just set. Bake for 60 minutes or until the custard is set and the top of the bread is golden brown. Let it cool slightly before slicing and serving so you can get neat pieces.
Serve the bread pudding warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of salted caramel sauce for the perfect finishing touch.
To store: refrigerate covered up to 2 days.