This week's official Tuesdays with Dorie assignment was something that Dorie refers to as Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding, a classic bread pudding with chocolate melted into the custard before soaking the bread.
I had made it before in both chocolate and non-chocolate forms, and I have finally decided, based on that experience and on a few restaurant encounters, that chocolate bread pudding is not a great match. I think chocolate is great, bread pudding is great, and they shouldn't mix. My ideal bread pudding is still one that I encountered one late night in Cuzco, Peru, of all places.
Cuzco, being the tourist mecca that it is, has a bizarre mix of Irish Pubs, Peruvian nightclubs, and one amazing Scandanavian breakfast place all within walking distance of the town center. It should be off-putting, and I'm not sure how long I could have stood it, but for a few days, Cuzco is strange but satisfying, if overcrowded and more touristy than Disneyland. Anyhow, like Disney (so I'm told), you can pick any cuisine of the world for every meal of the day. Unlike Disney, the options are usually run by expats dedicated to recreating nostalgic flavors for homesick tourists, so the results are usually pretty good. At one such place, Jack's something or other, an English/Irish pub overlooking the main plaza, my sister's British friends demanded that we order individual bread and butter puddings. These took the better part of an hour to arrive, but when they did...perfect, crunchy, custardy, and with creme anglaise to dribble over...
Liana and I have been dreaming about those bread and butter puddings ever since, and I have recreated them (sans creme anglaise, come on people) more than once with varying success, but all in all the experience has given me a soft spot a mile wide for bread pudding, and a corresponding discernment--all bread puddings are not created equal.
So, in my eternal quest to top Jack's in Cuzco, I decided that this week's TWD would skip the chocolate (absolutely wasted to my mind, brings down both elements, but this is purely and obviously a matter of taste) and instead throw in a little marzipan that was lying around. For bread, I used half a loaf of a soft sweet potato sandwich bread that I recently made, toasted in the oven to stale it up.The resulting pudding wound up soaking a little too long while waiting for the granola to get out of the oven (sometimes my kitchen is like an irate roommate situation with everyone waiting for someone else to get out of the bathroom), and so was, in the end, a little more soggy than I like it, without much differentiation between pieces of bread, but the marzipan was excellent, mostly but not entirely melted, and the whole thing was faintly orange from the sweet potato bread, and altogether pretty pleasing. Matt loved it, and at least it's not too terrible for us, as I used skim milk and mostly egg whites.