Soak the figs and cherries in the brandy for at least 20 minutes. Use one tablespoon of butter to generously grease a large baking dish (at least 10 cup capacity). Chill the rest of the butter.
Mix the sugar and spices for the topping; set aside. Beat the eggs with the vanilla. Add the milk, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Drain the figs and cherries and add the soaking liquid. Whisk to thoroughly blend.
Toss the bread with the soaked fruit, the chocolate, and the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Put it in the prepared baking dish. Pour the custard over it. Press down on the bread cubes to make sure they soak up the custard. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just before baking, sprinkle on the pecans and then sprinkle on the spice mixture. Cut the butter into 1/2 cubes and distribute on top of the pudding.
Bake for 45 - 55 minutes; a longer time will be needed for a deeper baking dish.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)