Orange and Chocolate Bread Pudding – a dark, rich, mature and intense affair

Orange and Chocolate Bread Pudding – a dark, rich, mature and intense affair

……Not only have I chosen oranges, but I’ll also choose which orange — I’ll test a few for firmness, scrape some rind off with my fingernail so that a citrus scent will linger there all day………When I walk away I’ll leave behind a trail of lamp-bright rind.” – Roisin Kelly

At home, I live with two mango maniacs – Big Daddy S and his little girl J. Littlest A is perhaps too little to express her love for anything, but I think she’d probably join her Daddy’s gang as all girls do. And I don’t complain. Not even if I am left alone with my passionate love for the great citrus family of Oranges – Tangerines, Clementines, Mandarins, Blood Oranges and Grapefruit. The orangey Oranges that sometimes make you wink when you taste them. They’re lovely, happy and bright – as Sunshine!

Long, (I mean really LLLOOONNNG) long time ago…when I was in school, most folks in my class loved to break rules (who didn’t?). We loved to snack all the time, even during a lecture – and though teachers banned it, munching in a class was considered a cool thing (sic)! Lunchboxes were sneaked out of classmate’s bag packs and passed under the desks after stealing a morsel.  We all knew what the other got for lunch from home. We could sniff and tell – we were that good at that! But nobody touches your lunchbox if you’ve got Oranges. Oranges?? Beware!!! Even the smartest gobbler would be caught mid-lecture and thrown out of the class – he’d be standing out, facing a wall and reliving the embarrassment of suppressed giggling of student passerby’s every few seconds. Yes, Oranges leave behind a strong track of evidence…the unstoppable tangy fruity aroma lingering everywhere.

I’ve loved oranges…can’t remember since when. I’d feel the aroma on my fingers and relish the fruit, but not before the ritualistic squeezing of orange peel in eyes of a friend next to me. That’s because I was told the essential oils are good for eyes (No, don’t trust me!!).  

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I got 4 fresh oranges from the store couple days back. I had put them in our metal fruit tree-basket. The doomed, about-to-wrinkle oranges caught my eyes today. They laid abandoned, as if uncared for, in their nest on the window sill. They had no hope of being consumed – no one was interested anymore. My eldest girl tells me (when I am not happy with her dressing style or if ‘m not amused at something she did), “Mumma, look at the bright side!” Yes, and I was trying to do exactly that. Trying to find something good in a not-so-good situation. Ironically enough, J had placed a printed canvas wall décor with the fruits. It said “IMAGINE your dream, CREATE your happiness, LIVE your life”. And then, my sight fell on the half-eaten dark chocolate bar!!! So how about a classic orangey –chocolaty magic spell on my old-fashioned bread pudding? Top it with red wine sauce? The result was a vivid sweet with a warm intoxicating aftertaste. Please try it – you wouldn’t regret, not even a tiny bit – I promise! And the oven doesn’t melt the dark chocolate in the pudding – they hang out there, waiting to get in your mouth for a blessed meltdown!!!

Taste the magic with my Reduced Red Wine Sauce — together they infuse amazing flavors!!

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Orange and Chocolate Bread Pudding 

Ingredients:pud2

  • Grate or Peel 1 Orange Rind
  • 8 slices Honey wheat or Whole wheat Bread 
  • 2 oz or 60 gms Plain dark chocolate bar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups* milk (whole or low fat)
  • 1 US cup* brown or white sugar (use 3/4th cup if you like it less sweet) 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extractpud1
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves or ground nutmeg (I used ground cloves)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • A handful of dried cranberries or raisins or chopped nuts of your choice (optional) — this recipe used cranberries
  • 3 tbsp melted butter + extra 1/2 tsp for greasing the pudding dish

*1 US cup = 200 gms or 240 ml

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Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F or 177°C
  2. Prepare an ovenproof pudding dish by greasing with some butter 
  3. Melt a little butter. Lightly brush both sides of each bread slice (I used Honey wheat bread) with butter and toast on a clean dry frying pan on medium-high heat. Flip and toast the second side of the breads too
  4. Break the bread into small pieces and distribute/place evenly in the pudding dish
  5. Break the dark chocolate bar (I used half of Hershey’s extra large special dark chocolate bar) into small pieces and scatter on the broken bread
  6. Scatter some cranberries on the broken bread 
  7. In a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs and grate 1 orange rind. Grate the orange part only. Including the white part may induce bitterness to the pudding (If you don’t mind taste of crispy, orange peel julienne, then peel the orange color rind, cut fine julienne, and scatter them on the broken bread pieces after step-5. I used the rind jupud5lienne. ) 
  8.  In the mixing bowl, add brown sugar (or white sugar) and mix well to dissolve. Add a little from the 2 cups milk if needed. (Brown sugar gives a nice rich brown color to the pudding)
  9. Add the remaining milk, vanilla extract, Cinnamon powder, ground cloves (or nutmeg) and mix well 
  10. Pour this mixture carefully all over the prepared bread bed
  11. Using a fork, press down the bread gently to ensure all pieces have soaked in the pudding base well
  12.  Place the pudding dish in oven and bake for 1 hour or until the top puffs up a bit. To check if done, insert a clean food prick in the pudding – it should come out clean
  13. Let the pudding stand for about 5 minutes
  14. Enjoy the pudding as is, or drizzle some wine sauce on it and serve immediately

Variation:

classic bread pudding
My classic white bread pudding with a sprinkled ground cinnamon top-crust

To make Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding, use a day stale or fresh, brown or white bread with the base pudding mixture I mentioned – skip grated orange peel and chocolate all together (non-toasted, fresh white bread results in an Oh-so-soft almost melting delicious pudding!). For a topping variation, you may use pecans, candied nuts, chopped almonds and pistachios, white or milk chocolate chips or granola crunch with/without honey. Instead of the red wine sauce, if you’d like your child to enjoy without you being guilty, brush some honey and/or orange juice on the pudding. For a double shot of Chocolate in Pudding, use about 4 oz or 120 gms of sweet-bitter dark chocolate  and proceed with the other recipe steps. 

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