The holiday season is upon us, and that means quite a bit of overindulgence. The days are much shorter now, and it’s cold outside. I think human nature naturally pushes us towards heartier, richer, comforting dishes. You know, the kind that warm your belly from the inside?
For me, there is nothing that says “holiday brunch” or “Christmas morning breakfast” than this decadent bread pudding. The combination of chocolate and slightly tart cherry is a classic winter favorite. It brings me back to my childhood days of tearing into a box of chocolate-cherry cordials after dinner, the red syrup practically dripping down my chin. My version, made with gluten free sweet bread and a homemade egg custard infused with dutch cocoa, is certain to be a crowd pleaser. Best of all, you can make it the night before (as a matter of fact, it tastes best when it’s made the night before!) and bake it off when you’re ready for it. You can bake it as a larger casserole-type dish, or spoon the mixture into individual ramekins or baking cups, which makes for a fun way to serve them. This dish is best served warm — ice cream optional! — but can also be enjoyed at room temperature, making this the ideal dish to bring to a holiday brunch or breakfast gathering. Halfway through baking, sprinkle the top with a good handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips and serve with a good dusting of confectioners’ sugar!
Gluten Free Chocolate-Cherry Holiday Bread Pudding
- 1 loaf Canyon Bakehouse Hawaiian Sweet bread, cut into small cubes
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- About 1 cup pitted dark morello cherries with some of their juice (any tart cherry will do)
- 3/4 cup seedless cherry jam
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips for sprinkling on top
- Step 1 Cut the bread into cubes and arrange in a buttered casserole dish
- Step 2 Sprinkle the cherries and their juice on top of the bread
- Step 3 In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the heavy cream, milk and vanilla until combined.
- Step 4 In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the cherry jam to a gentle simmer, whisking frequently. Add in the cocoa powder and remove from the heat, whisking briskly to remove any lumps.
- Step 5 When the chocolate-cherry mixture is smooth, briskly whisk it into the egg mixture, being sure that the two are combined well. It should resemble the color of chocolate milk.
- Step 6 Pour the custard over the bread and cherries. With a fork, gently pressing the bread into the custard so all of the bread cubes begin to absorb the custard.
- Step 7 Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least a few hours).
- Step 8 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Step 9 If baking in individual cups or ramekins, place them onto a rimmed, sturdy baking sheet and spoon some of the bread-custard mixture into each cup.
- Step 10 Bake about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the custard is set.
- Step 11 About halfway through baking, remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Return to the oven and finish baking.
- Step 12 Serve warm for breakfast or brunch. If serving for dessert, add a scoop of ice cream!