Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cranberry-Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding

As my friend Helen put it:  What do you do when life gives you overdone muffins?  Make bread pudding!

Yes, it all started when I overcooked a double batch of muffins.  I didn't trust my gut.  I'd been baking all day and knew the oven was retaining heat well, but I didn't set the timer at the low end of the recipe time.  The top two-thirds of them were still fantastic (but that doesn't make a very nice gift, bottomless muffins) so I needed to find something to do with them. Bread Pudding! Of course. Never made bread pudding before. Since they were cranberry-orange muffins, those flavors were in my search terms and this came up. And I already had a bowl full of orange-cranberry relish!

So I quickly chopped up the 23 day-old muffins (24, minus the one I ate, and the too-dark bottoms) and the rest is history.  Now, don't be turned off by all the from-scratch ingredients.  Everything can be made in advance, pace yourself.  The muffins are supposed to be a little dried out, so day old is good.  And you could make the relish a whole week ahead. 
Cranberry-Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding
Start with 2 batches (24) Orange-Cranberry Delicate Muffins and 1 batch Cranberry-Orange Relish

5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 c orange-cranberry relish
3/4 c chopped cranberries

6 eggs
2 c milk
1-1/2 c cream
3/4 c sugar
2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
2 T unsalted butter
1-2 T orange liquer (optional)

Chocolate Sauce
4 oz chocolate - I used 2 oz chopped bittersweet and 2 oz regular semi-sweet chips
1/4 c cream or half and half
pinch salt

Lightly grease bottom of 9x13 glass pan.  Cut muffins into pieces, set aside. 

Chop chocolate, set aside. In a food processor chop cranberries with relish. Arrange half of chopped-up muffins in one layer in baking dish and sprinkle evenly with chocolate and all of cranberry relish mix. Top with remaining muffin pieces. 

In a bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, and salt and pour slowly and evenly over bread. Cut butter into bits and dot pudding with it. Chill, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. (I love make ahead recipes!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake on middle rack, about 40 minutes.

Sauce (takes about 10 minutes):
In a double boiler (small metal bowl set over a small pot of not-quite simmering water) melt chocolate then whisk in 1/4 cup cream and a pinch of salt until combined well. Keep sauce warm, covered.

Serve pudding warm with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Makes 12 generous servings.

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