For several years I went to High Point, NC, during the furniture markets and worked in the kitchen with several industrious chefs. I had no cooking credentials, and was grateful for the learning opportunity. We served several hundred people three meals a day. Each morning along with the freshly cooked bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, etc, we also served trays of sweet rolls and croissants from a local bakery. And at night we would make bread pudding in large hotel pans from the sweet breads left over from the morning meal. It was our most popular sweet, even though we made many much more elaborate desserts. That's how I learned to make bread pudding, and this is the bread pudding I now make at home taken from that learning experience. (As a side note, I had the absolute pleasure of spending a day with Darrell Scott, who wanted to learn to make my bread pudding. It was one of the most enjoyable days of my life, which included about 2 hours of his incredible music!) —Annelle
regular sized day old croissants, cut into bite sized pieces
Bring milk, cream, one cup of sugar, and vanilla to a simmer in heavy medium sized sauce pot. Simmer, stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.
Break eggs into large mixing bowl and whisk until light and creamy. Add remaining cup of sugar and whisk until well blended. Slowly add milk and cream mixture, whisking the entire time. Strain combined mixture into another large bowl.
Add croissant pieces to prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle chocolate pieces over croissants. Pour custard over chocolate and croissants.
Let stand at room temperature for one hour, occasionally pressing croissant pieces to submerge them into custard.
Place casserole into large roasting pan, set in oven, and fill roasting pan with very hot water about half way up the sides of the casserole dish (bake in bain-marie).
Bake until puffed and golden, about 45 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving. The chocolate will be melted, and acts as a sauce all through the pudding.