I want to tell you about the first time I had chocolate bread pudding. The story is slightly rambling and I’m likely to mix things up, talk in hyperbole, and maybe flat-out lie, so bear with me. I used to go out with this guy who lived across the street from Blue Ribbon Bakery in Manhattan, and he took me there for dessert on one of our first dates. The bakery had my kind of dessert menu: Full of sundaes and profiteroles and floats and not one, but two bread puddings. One with bananas and walnuts and one with chocolate chips, vanilla ice cream, and hot fudge. I think you can guess which one I ordered, and it was life-changing. First of all, it was huge, and, as is well-documented on this site, I love a big dessert. Second, (now here’s where the hyperbole start flying) it was the best dessert I had ever had (I warned you). The custard-soaked bread (maybe baguette?) studded with molten chocolate chips, combined with the slightly melty vanilla ice cream and warm hot fudge basically put me over the edge. It was one of those food memories that you do not forget. Ever.
Lucky for me, forgetting it was not even in the realm of possibility, as it was a dessert I treated myself to on a semi-regular basis for the next several years. (I ended up marrying the guy who’d brought me on that fateful date, moving to Brooklyn, and ordering said pudding from Blue Ribbon’s Brooklyn outpost on more occasions than I can count.) But that was a long time ago, and even though when out to eat, and if on the menu, I always order bread pudding, it has been a while since I had one that even came close to rivaling the custard-y, bread-y, chocolate-y perfection that is Blue Ribbon’s. That is, until now.
My chocolate banana-bread bread pudding might even be better than the aforementioned, and that’s not even taking into consideration what it might be like with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. I just serve mine with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar and a dribble of heavy cream, but here’s the thing about mine that kind of/sort of puts it in a class by itself: The bread component of the pudding is an uber-yummy chocolate banana bread that you make prior to pudding time. I know, I know, “how can I even be asking you to make banana bread and THEN use said bread in a pudding??” I’m asking a lot, I get it. but here’s the thing: Banana bread is super easy and fast to make and the recipe makes enough for two loaves (one for your pudding and one for your freezer or counter). And I’m just hear to tell you that toasting up cubes of this bread and tossing it with a brown sugar-sweetened, vanilla-scented custard and additional banana coins is kind of to die. Oh, and no, I do not live under a rock and so, yes, I do know that the Smitten Kitchen double chocolate banana bread is everyone and her mother’s favorite, but you know what? Mine’s good, too, and I think the world is ready for two great chocolate banana breads. I just do.
Now, I realize this post is a bit of a departure from prior ones, as I am not giving you copious details about my recipe development process, but please do let me know if you are curious about why I added or didn’t add a certain ingredient, or what inspired or influenced an ingredient or method choice, because I do love a nerdy chat. And just so you know what I perused in the making of this post: For the banana bread, I looked at Food Network, Smitten Kitchen, and Simply Recipes (among others, I’m not going to lie). And for the custard and over-all technique I looked on In Style to a bread pudding I had developed previously. That’s all I’m going to say except that if you like banana bread and chocolate and consider yourself a bread pudding fan (and i really hope you do), this might just become your new favorite dessert. Whether you eat it with ice cream or on a date, matters not.
Chocolate Banana Bread Bread Pudding
For the chocolate banana bread (makes 2 loaves)
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp dutch process cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 8 VERY ripe bananas
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 stick 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 yolk
- 2 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the pudding/custard
- 2 large eggs
- 1 yolk
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled
- one loaf of chocolate banana bread cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
- 2 bananas sliced in 1/2-inch coins
- sanding sugar for sprinkling
- confectioners' sugar for sifting
- heavy cream for dribbling
To make the chocolate banana bread
- Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and spray two 9x5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray or grease with butter. set aside.
- Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Add the chocolate chips, and whisk again. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, peel the bananas and mash them with your hands (or a rubber spatula). Add the sugars, and whisk to combine. Add the butter and oil and whisk again. Add the sour cream, and then the eggs, yolk, and vanilla and whisk again.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and using a rubber spatula, fold the dry into the wet until a few streaks of flour remain in the batter. Do not over-mix.
- Transfer the batter between the two pans and use a small offset spatula to smooth the tops. Bake for about an hour to an hour and 10 minutes, rotating the pans after 30 minutes. Begin checking the loaves with a toothpick after about 55 minutes. The loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the center is covered in a few moist crumbs. Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for ten minutes. Remove the loaves from their pans and let cool on the rack until room temperature.
- Once at room temperature, wrap one loaf in plastic wrap and then a piece of foil, and freeze. Take the second loaf and slice it into 3/4-inch cubes. Place them on a baking sheet and toast them for about 25 to 30 minutes in a 325-degree oven. Every 8 minutes or so, remove the pan and turn the bread cubes over, so that they evenly toast. Once dry and toast-like, remove the cubes from the oven and set aside to cool.
To make the custard
- in a large bowl, whisk the eggs, yolk, and vanilla. add the sugars and whisk again. add the milk and the cream and whisk again. add the butter and whisk a final time. add the toasted bread cubes to the custard and stir with a rubber spatula until the bread is completely covered in custard. add the banana coins and stir again.
To assemble the bread pudding
- Spray a 9x2-inch square baking pan (for a tall bread pudding) or a 13x9x2-inch pan (for a shallower one) with cooking spray or grease with butter. Pour the custard-covered bread and bananas into the prepared pan. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Sprinkle the pudding with the sanding sugar and place in the oven and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, until the custard is just set. remove from the oven. Let cool briefly, and then sift the confectioners' sugar over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature (but warm is better in my book) with a dribble of heavy cream.