Chocolate bread pudding with caramelized bananas (in praise of Paula Deen)

This is a great, easy recipe for the holidays and it’s fantastic because it actually gets better when you refrigerate it overnight and pull it out to heat it up the next day.

Last year, I made Paula Deen’s chocolate bread pudding recipe. Having never made bread pudding, I stuck with her recipe that time and it was a real keeper. But I wanted to add something zippy to it this year, so I decided that chocolate and caramelized bananas were a great combo, but the addition of bananas necessitated a change in the flavor profile, so I’ve tweaked Paula’s recipe take into account the fruit.

Chocolate bread pudding, adapted from Paula Deen

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf French or Italian bread, cubed
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup coffee flavored liqueur
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated

Caramelized bananas

  • 3 medium sized bananas, peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and place the bread in a large bowl, and set it aside.

Then attend to the bananas– place the brown sugar in shallow bowl and coat the banana pieces in brown sugar. The moisture from the bananas will immediately turn the brown sugar into a viscous coating.

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Melt the 2 tbsp butter in a skillet and then add the bananas.

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Let the bananas cook, so that the sugar coating around the bananas caramelizes.

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Flip the bananas over, and let the other side of the bananas cook. They should acquire a crispy, golden brown exterior. (As a side note, you can do this with banana slices– they make an awesome addition to French Toast or pancakes– check this out):

IMG_0102Once the bananas are finished cooking, integrate them into the bowl of bread cubes. Do this while they’re still warm, so that you can make sure they are evenly distributed.

Now, on to the pudding. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, and liqueur. In a small bowl (this is a bowl-heavy recipe), combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder and mix well. Add the sugar mixture to the milk mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla and almond extract, and cinnamon to the beaten eggs. Combine the egg mixture to the milk mixture and mix well.

Stir the grated chocolate into the mixture. Pour the mixture over the cubed bread in a large bowl. Let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally for approximately 30 minutes or until bread absorbs most of the milk mixture. Pour the pudding mixture into the baking dish.

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Bake pudding for 1 hour or until set. Check pudding by inserting a knife through the middle and it should come out clean.

IMG_0142I highly recommend making the pudding, letting it cool, and then placing the whole dish into the refrigerator overnight. It solidifies the pudding and lets the flavors meld. It is really easy to re-heat it before you serve it to guests.

I served it with a crème anglaise, which added a lovely sauce on top of the squares of decadent, rich pudding. I probably should have strained the sauce before pouring it on top, but it really didn’t make a difference– it was SO GOOD.

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