Chocolate Bread Pudding

It’s remarkable to think that bread pudding, something that originated in the 11th century, has risen its way up the ranks to become a “trendy dessert” around the world. In the early 11th and 12th centuries frugal cooks began making bread pudding to use leftover bread and eliminate waste. By the 13th century, the English had coined this popular, and now common dish, “poor man’s pudding”.

bread pudding

A Pandemic Obsession

Bread pudding and I have a long history as well. The bread pudding was one of the dishes I became responsible for at my first job as a line cook. As the only woman in the kitchen, desserts became my responsibility, albeit, not part of my actual job. Like rice pudding, I made bread pudding several times a week. But this dish, which I was so familiar with, took on a whole new meaning (and obsession) once the pandemic struck.

bread pudding

During the pandemic, stuck in lockdown, we all had a feeling of fear and hopelessness. With our world upside down, (and no vaccine in sight) the looming sense of doom and uncertainty was overwhelming. Panic was everywhere and things like toilet paper and basic pantry staples were suddenly hard to come by. My chef instincts, (like Spidey’s senses), quickly kicked in, and eliminating waste became a serious focus for me. As did stress-baking, and a tall pour of Sauvignon blanc in the late afternoon.

bread pudding

Don’t Judge a Stress, Baker

Deep within my baking phase were sub-layers of other comfort foods I obsessed over. I can’t recall them all surprisingly, but the most notable were; breads, cocktails, and my chocolate bread pudding phase. The latter began on Fridays when I baked a fresh loaf of challah bread. The challah was essential to Shabbat, but simultaneously served two other equally important purposes: breakfast Saturday morning (cinnamon French toast) and dessert Sunday night. Bread pudding became a welcome ritual for all of us. We had something to look forward to. And whether it was served chilled with homemade whipped cream (how my older son prefers it), or warm with whipped, (like my husband and younger son prefer it), chocolate bread pudding brought the comfort we all craved.

Homemade or Store Bought

In the post-pandemic period, I have made this dish a bit less frequently, but when I do, it’s celebrated. It’s not discussed among us; it’s just understood as something special that bonds us. I still bake fresh challah every Friday so that is what I use to make my chocolate bread pudding. But you don’t have to bake the challah to make this classic dessert, any challah or brioche-type bread will work just as well.

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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