Bread pudding has been traced to the 11th and 12th centuries in England, as people baked this treat to use up leftover bread. Even in those times, they were thinking about not wasting food! That said, bread puddings are famously easy to put together and fit right into the Seriously Simple cooking philosophy.
Today, you can find bread puddings speckled with black or white truffles and exotic cheeses for savory versions, and sweet white chocolate and colorful red and blue berries for dessert versions. The creamy, comforting dessert you see here was well-tested with many tweaks.
I have tried different white chocolate varieties and recommend Valrhona, if you can find it, or Lindt. They both come in bar form. What is white chocolate? It is pale ivory in color and is made from cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids, and sometimes vanilla. There are no cocoa solids, which are found in other types of chocolate, such as milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
Do not use the chocolate chips that say white chips. They have palm oil as an ingredient and don’t taste like white chocolate. They contain little or no cocoa butter. Somehow, along the way, American manufacturers changed the formula using less cocoa butter so they can no longer call the chips white chocolate.
This bread pudding with raspberries and blueberries may be my best bread pudding yet. Colorful in red, white, and blue, this is not only beyond delicious, but also patriotic. Sometimes I serve this with blueberry or raspberry sauce, but that’s up to you. A tuft of freshly whipped cream on top is always appreciated. You can serve this warm or at room temp. Don’t expect any leftovers; but if you’re lucky and have some, it’s wonderful cold for breakfast.
White Chocolate Bread Pudding
Serves 8 to 10
- Baking spray
- 1 pound day-old challah or brioche cut into 1-inch cubes (cubes should be stale, or dried out)
- 1 1/2 cups raspberries
- 1 1/2 cup blueberries
- 3 1/2 cups half and half
- 12 ounces (Valrhona or Lindt) white chocolate, about 2 cups chopped
- 6 large whole eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Boiling water, as needed
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
Spray a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with baking spray. Arrange the bread and the berries in the dish, making sure they’re evenly distributed.
In a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half on medium-high. When it begins to simmer, turn heat down to low and add white chocolate. Whisk the mixture together until the chocolate has melted. Cool for 10 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the whole eggs and egg yolks on medium speed until frothy. Add the sugar and beat until thick and lemon colored, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the half-and-half/white chocolate mixture and vanilla, and mix to combine.
Ladle the custard over the bread. Let the pudding sit for 30 minutes to help the bread absorb the custard, occasionally pushing the bread down with a wooden spoon. (Cover with aluminum foil.) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the baking dish in a larger baking pan. Pour almost-boiling water into the larger baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. Remove foil, place the pudding in the oven, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
Open the oven and, using long oven mitts to protect your hands, push the bread down with a large wooden spoon. The remaining liquid custard will rise to the surface. Spoon the custard evenly over the bread slices. Bake for about 10 minutes more, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out nearly clean.
Remove the pudding from the oven. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the top with the confectioners’ powdered sugar, and let it rest on a rack for about 10 minutes. Serve in squares alone or with whipped cream. It’s also excellent served cold the next day.
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at SeriouslySimple.com. Copyright 2021 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.