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Author Notes: My friend's have a very large, very fun, annual crawfish boil in May. I make desserts, and typically 150 or more portions worth. Each year I do a different take on bread pudding. This year I used a Mrs. Field's White Chocolate Bread Pudding recipe as my backbone. The original incorporates a white chocolate custard and sliced bananas. I've changed from bananas to dried tart cherries, and added some chocolate chunks. I also used cinnamon swirl bread in place of French bread. The result is a pretty decadent version of bread pudding. —hardlikearmour
Makes one 13- by 9-inch pan
- 1 pound raisin-free cinnamon swirl bread, preferably day-old
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 3/4 cup dried sour cherries
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 3 tablespoons Kirsch or brandy, divided
- 16 ounces white chocolate
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 8 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Cut the bread into 3/4-inch cubes, and spread in a single layer on 2 sheet pans to dry overnight. Alternately bake in a 300º oven for 15 minutes or so, stirring once, to dry but not toast the bread.
- Preheat oven to 350º F with a rack in the top third of the oven. Grease pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Set aside.
- Place dried cherries in a bowl. Add hot water and 1 T of kirsch or brandy. Set aside to plump.
- Coarsely chop white chocolate, and place in a large bowl. Heat half-and-half, sugar, and butter to a simmer. Pour the hot mixture over the chopped chocolate. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, the stir until smooth.
- Lightly beat the eggs, vanilla, and the remaining kirsch or brandy. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, and whisk to combine thoroughly.
- Add the bread cubes to the white chocolate custard, and stir to coat. Allow to rest, stirring once, for 15 minutes. Drain the cherries, then gently stir the cherries and chocolate chips into the bread custard mixture.
- Pour the bread custard mixture into an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Combine the turbinado sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, then sprinkle in an even layer over the bread pudding.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the custard is set (it should puff up, and not release any liquid when gently pressed.) If the top isn't nicely browned, turn the oven to broil for several minutes. Monitor closely to prevent burning.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool at least 45 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream, brandy sauce or ice cream (vanilla or black cherry.)
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Stale Bread
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