I’d like to kick off Black History month with a recipe by Chicago-based humanities instructor, Erika Dudley. I met Erika through Twitter. We bonded over a similar experience of living in Rome, and a love for food. I thought she was a foodie like many others, but then I started to follow her Instagram feed and I was really blown away by the diversity of dishes she prepared on a regular basis. She’s not just a foodie, I found out, she’s a trained chef! I have been trying to figure a way to move to Chicago, to her neighborhood to get myself invited over for meals on a regular basis. Her photos of mocha bread pudding lead to the recipe appearing here. Bread pudding is very easy to make, and as we’ve noted here on the column in the past, chocolate and coffee are one of the most sought after food combinations! –Kristina
About Erika: Erika Dudley considers her job the best job in the world. She creates and leads classes, events, and opportunities for people to engage in the humanities with a particular focus on the arts. Through the University of Chicago, she manages programming to engage graduates of the Odyssey Project, a free humanities-based program for low income adults. She also co-created a series called Progressive Conversations. These are courses taught through the University of Chicago and monthly events highlighting the cultural capital of the South Side of Chicago through the visual and performing arts, history, food, and drink. This allows her to flex her cooking skills, which were gained at the Cordon Bleu. She has lived in Italy and France, and has worked in French and Japanese restaurants, student-run catering business, and Krystal’s! You can follow her delicious Instagram feed at @francoitalian.
See Erica’s full recipe after the jump!
Mocha bread pudding
- 3 cups of bread cubes (About a 1/3-1/2 of a loaf of bread with a dense crumb)
- 3.5 ounces/100g of semisweet chocolate
- 2/3 cup/150ml strong coffee
- 3.5 tablespoons/50g of butter
- 2/3 cup/150ml milk
- 3.5 tablespoons/50ml of heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
Pinch of salt
For the whipped cream
- 1 cup/240ml of heavy cream
- 1-2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/4 cup of mascarpone (optional)
- Ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F/180C
- In a heatproof bowl that will be used as a double boiler, add the chocolate, coffee, and butter. Maintaining a gentle simmer, slowly melt the chocolate and stir occasionally until there’s a smooth liquid. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Butter four cup-sized ovenproof containers.
- Meanwhile, remove the crust and cut the bread into 3/4″ squares.
- Place about one quarter of the bread crumbs in each dish (approximately 3/4 cup of bread crumbs in each dish)
- In a large bowl, whisk the milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and salt.
- Add about a 1/4 cup (60ml) of the chocolate mixture to temper the custard and avoid curdling the eggs. Whisk and then gradually add the rest of the chocolate mixture. Whisk until smooth and then add the vanilla.
- Ladle the custard over the bread. Gently press the bread cubes into the custard so that each piece is completely bathed in chocolate. You can allow it to sit up to a 2-3 minutes but not too long or it will be mushy.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil and into the oven.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Whip cream just to soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar. Add the mascarpone if using and whisk until smooth.
- Add a large dollop of cream and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.
Why Erika loves this recipe
I’ve always loved puddings: their silkiness and warmth give me comfort. I especially associate these kind of desserts with my mom. She taught me how to liven up dishes using leftovers. And if you know me, you know that live and breathe for coffee. Anything where it shines is my kind of food.