I must admit I am a sucker for bread pudding. While I know the weather is starting to heat up, this is one warm dessert I simply cannot get enough of any time of year. As late spring rolls into summer, the quality of fruit you can find in the markets greatly improve. The natural sugars in fruit increase giving it a much sweeter flavor. In my opinion, the sweeter the fruit, the tastier the dish.
I am lucky enough to work in a professional kitchen where I am given some freedom to create dishes based upon the quality of the ingredients available to me. When a dessert was taken off the menu due to lack of success I was asked to create a simple dish that could utilize what we already had on hand and could command anywhere from $7-10. Immediately I thought of bread pudding. It is simple, delicious, and could utilize the fresh strawberries and white chocolate I already had on hand.
Making bread pudding is quite simple; it just takes a bit of time for the batch to come out just right.
Strawberry & White Chocolate Bread Pudding
1 qt milk
1 qt cream
1 pound brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 qt chopped bread
white chocolate chips (about half to 3/4 cup)
diced strawberries, diced small (about 2 cups)
– Mix wet, add bread, soak overnight.
– Add strawberries (about 1/4 c) and white chocolate chips (about 1 tbs) to bottom of restaurant sized soup cup or other similar sized container (about 6 oz.).
– Cover with soaked bread pudding mixture and bake at 325 for around 35 min.
– Finish with drizzle of heavy cream at service.
Your yields will very greatly depending on how densely you pack the cup pre-bake. Keep in mind that upon baking the mixture inside the cup will deflate in size not rise therefore a dense pack is encouraged.
Feel free to experiment with other additions as well. I have used ingredients such as blueberries, caramel and apples, as well as cherries and dark chocolate. Your own creativity is the limit.
As we roll into summer local farmers markets will have a wide variety of fruit available to experiment with. The joy of cooking and eating comes from using the best ingredients you can find at a price you can afford. When you purchase food from local growers you know what you will be eating is as fresh as it could possibly be. Freshness makes all the difference and is often why a restaurant prepared meal tastes slightly better than a similar meal prepared at home with ingredients purchased from the chain supermarket.
Paul Rados is a formally trained chef living and working in Cleveland, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @PSRados