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. Continue reading

giving thanks

We had such a lovely Thanksgiving this year. J and I are relocating soon, and it was such a blessing to be able to share our last Thanksgiving in a city that we love, surrounded by close friends that we will miss dearly.

And, of course, J and I did much of the cooking. J normally makes a triple-cherry lattice pie, but there were some complications with acquiring the ingredients (I’m looking at you, Trader Joe’s) so we made an apple-ginger pie with a cider-bourbon sauce. It was really good, but we were so harried in the process of getting everything together for the big night that we didn’t have time to take many pictures.

As an addendum to our pie, we decided to try a new dessert: chocolate bread pudding. We’ve never made one before, but it seemed appropriate for the holiday.

I turned to the queen of crazy cooking, Paula Deen, for this one.  I was certain that she would tell me to make bread pudding out of Krispy Kremes, but this recipe actually contained regular bread, and it was SO GOOD.

I made this recipe as-is, although she called for semi-sweet chocolate and I used 59% bittersweet. I doubt there’s a big difference. She mentioned that she let the bread sit in the pudding mixture for 20 minutes, but out of necessity, (the oven was busy cooking stuffing) the bread sat in the pudding mixture for probably about an hour, without any ill effects. The uncooked bread pudding smelled so good; the Kahlua really gives it a richer flavor. Her directions don’t specify a type of cocoa powder, so I just used a non-Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder.

Chocolate bread pudding, 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 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and place the bread in the dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, and liqueur. Using another bowl, 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 the pan. Let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally for approximately 20 minutes or until bread absorbs most of the milk mixture. Bake pudding for 1 hour or until set. Check pudding by inserting a knife through the middle and it should come out clean.


It looks really ugly when you take it out. I thought that it looked overcooked, but that’s just the bread turning brown from being chocolatey. I seriously thought I had ruined it, but there was no way to tell without cutting into it before our guests came over.


This actually made an awesome Thanksgiving dessert because you can make it a day in advance and shove it in the fridge overnight. When you want to serve it, throw some foil over the entire pan and heat it back up in the oven and it is just as good as it would be fresh.

Paula recommends serving it with whipped cream, but I decided what it needed was a warm crème anglaise. I originally was going to make a pistachio-infused crème anglaise, but we had a guest with a nut allergy, so it was just the plain vanilla flavor. It was so good with the bread pudding.

Crème anglaise is just a fancy term for a vanilla custard sauce. It’s super easy to make; just be careful adding the milk/cream mixture to the egg yolks. I didn’t have vanilla bean available, so I just subbed the bean for 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Crème Anglaise, from Epicurious

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 2-inch piece vanilla bean, split
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Combine milk and cream in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring milk mixture to simmer. Remove from heat.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Stir over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Strain sauce into bowl. Cover and chill. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

Put the two desserts together, and you get a match made in Thanksgiving heaven.