I've only had bread pudding perhaps 3 or 4 times in my life, and I've never made it before. My first, and probably most authentic, taste of bread pudding was from Durgin Park in Boston. I have fond memories of going to this restaurant as a child, ordering “chicken” and being presented with basically an entire bird. Ordering “steak” got you a t-bone the size of a boogie board. There was sawdust on the floor, the waiters were rude, and it was complete chaos. I loved it. I remember ordering “Indian Pudding” (that’s “Native American Pudding” for all you PC folks) and expecting something along the lines of Jell-o pudding snacks, because in my 8-year old mind that was what pudding was. Imagine my surprise when I got a cornmeal-based molasses bread pudding with ice cream. This was not what Bill Cosby sold on TV, but it was frickin’ amazing.
Figuring that bead pudding is a basic vehicle for any sweet dessert profile, I decided that I love bananas Foster, and that I also love Chunky Monkey ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s. Bananas Foster bread pudding had been done (Emeril, my mortal chef enemy, does a version) so I figured that adding the Chunky Monkey (for the uninitiated, this is banana ice cream with chunks of chocolate and walnuts in it) to the bananas Foster would be a great flavor profile. You can be the judge of that, but we have the dark rum, brown sugar and cinnamon of the Foster, along with the chocolate and walnut of the Chunky Monkey. Serve it with ice cream and chocolate sauce and you’ve got yourself a humdinger of a dessert.
Having never made a bread pudding before, I decided to wing it with a peasant boule from Fairway, modify my Grandmother’s custard recipe, throw in all the ingredients that I know to be in bananas Foster and Chunky Monkey, and have at it. —lechef
For the pudding
1 inch crusty bread cubes, enough to cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan (day old if you’re thinking ahead)
Grease the inside of a 9×13 baking dish, and arrange the bread in the bottom. Nestle the bananas in with the bread, and sprinkle the walnuts and chocolate over the top
Beat the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and rum together. Pour over the top of the bread and bananas. Push down any bread that sticks up to make sure everything is coated. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the brown sugar. Mix until a thick paste is formed, and drizzle the brown sugar mixture over the top of the pudding.
Heat your oven to 350. Bake for 50 minutes, or until custard is set.
For the Chocolate Sauce, simply melt the chocolate over low heat in a small saucepan. Whisk in the cream until smooth.
Spoon out the pudding with a side of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and serve!