Make Karen Krasne’s Extraordinary Bread Pudding at Home
Karen Krasne has a way of combining ingredients and creating unique, indulgent desserts that are, in a word, extraordinary. If you live in or near San Diego you can visit her bakeries, Extraordinary Desserts, but for the rest of us her book Extraordinary Cakescan help us recreate her splendid creations at home. During our interview Karen said that this dessert is her clientele’s favorite. What’s not to love with crème brulée, dark chocolate and buttery, flaky croissants? If you think bread pudding is boring, take a look at the ingredients. This is one of the most decadent brunch desserts you can make – and friends and family will be talking about this one for a while.
Excerpted with Permission from Extraordinary Cakes: Recipes for Bold and Sophisticated Dessertsby Karen Krasne. Published by Rizzoli 2011. Photos by Ray Kachatorian.
This chocolate bread pudding is not only one of the most popular desserts in my repertoire, but also one of the simplest to make. Essentially a spin on the French breakfast pastry, pain au chocolat, my version is buttery and crunchy, and best of all, gushing with chocolate! Delicious either on a brunch buffet or as dessert, to enjoy this cake at its best, be sure to serve it warm.
- 13 large egg yolks
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 4 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 whole vanilla bean, scraped
- 8 to 9 medium-to-large (about 3 ounces each) bakery-quality purchased all-butter croissants
- 12 ounces (2 cups) 64% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Chocolate Sauce (optional)
- For the Creme Brulée: In a heatproof, nonreactive mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
- Bring the cream, milk, and vanilla bean seeds to a boil in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. While whisking continuously, slowly pour the warm cream over the egg mixture and whisk until well blended.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl and set aside. TheCrème Brûlée Mixture may be made up to 2 days in advance if kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The Crème Brûlée Mixture can be used cold or at room temperature.
- For the Assembly: Preheat the oven to 250°F. Remove the bottom of a 10-by-4-inch springform angel food cake pan and cover with a large square of aluminum foil. Click the bottom of the pan back in place so that the excess aluminum foil sticks out the sides. Fold the excess foil up and around the outside of the pan to form a collar. This will prevent the Crème Brûlée Mixture from leaking out of the bottom of the pan as it bakes. Place the foil-lined cake pan on a baking sheet.
- Using a serrated knife, cut 3 of the croissants into 1-inch square pieces and set aside. Repeat with the remaining 5 to 6 croissants and keep them separated for the second layer.
- Pour 1½ cups of the Crème Brulée Mixture into the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Layer the first batch of croissant pieces on top of the batter in the pan. Push the croissant pieces down slightly to submerge them in the liquid, to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Spread the chopped chocolate evenly over the croissant pieces. Spoon 1 cup of Crème Brûlée Mixture over the chocolate, and pile all the remaining croissant pieces on top, leaving approximately 1 inch between the croissant layer and the top of the pan. Depending on the size of the croissants, you may have pieces leftover. These can be stored in the freezer for the next time you make this dessert.
- Pour the remaining Crème Brûlée Mixture slowly and carefully over the croissants. The croissant will soak up a lot of liquid, so you may want to pour the batter in gradually and slowly to make sure that it is being soaked up. Be sure to use all of the batter so that your bread pudding will be very moist and rich after baking.
- Place the bread pudding on the baking sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and bake for 90 minutes. The top will be crusty and toasted and the Crème Brûlée Mixture will have firmed up into a baked custard.
- Remove the bread pudding from the oven and allow to cool completely,
- to 2 hours, before unmolding. The bread pudding is best when served within 2 hours of being baked so that it does not need to be reheated.
- For Serving: Allow the bread pudding to cool to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours, before releasing it from the pan. When the bread pudding is cool enough to unmold, begin by pushing the bottom of the cake pan up and out of the pan. Next, slide the blade of a metal spatula or a long knife between the bread pudding and the bottom of the cake pan to separate. Cut the bread pudding into slices and slide each slice off the bottom of the cake pan and onto a serving platter, reassembling the cake in the shape of the pan.
- Fill a small sieve with the powdered sugar and sprinkle generously over the bread pudding.
- Serve the bread pudding with whipped cream and sauce, if desired.