This lavish dessert will please even the white chocolate doubters amongst your guests. Use bread that’s a day old and leave the crust on for best results. Sliced and sugared fresh fruit, such as peaches, strawberries or raspberries would be a nice accompaniment for the bread pudding, when seasonal.
do ahead Pudding may be made four days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
Bring to room temperature; reheat, uncovered, at 275° for 30 minutes.
6 cups 1⁄2-inch cubed challah bread
12 ounces chopped white chocolate
1⁄2 cup dried cherries, cranberries, apricots or raisins (optional)
2 cups heavy cream
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄8 teaspoon table salt
bittersweet chocolate sauce (optional; see p. 420)
1 Arrange bread in a 9″ by 9″ baking dish or a deep pie dish (about 91⁄2 inches across). If using dried fruit, scatter it over the bread.
2 Make the custard: In a heavy saucepan, bring cream almost to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in white chocolate. Cover pan and let mixture rest for 5-10 minutes, then whisk it smooth. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Then whisk in milk, vanilla and salt. Pour hot cream and chocolate into the egg mixture all at once, whisking constantly.
3 Arrange an oven rack to the upper-middle shelf and preheat oven to 275°.
4 Pour the warm mixture over bread. Pat bread down with an open palm so the cubes are all submerged. They pop right back up again, but they got dunked, which is the important part. Bake for 45-55 minutes. The center of the bread pudding will puff up and feel firm to the touch when it is done.
5 Serve warm. Garnish with lightly sweetened whipped cream, a smattering of fresh fruit and/or a drizzle of bittersweet chocolate sauce.