France is totally open. It’s huge for all of us here though I wonder if it is big news anywhere else? I do know the world is paying attention, because I get almost daily messages saying, “We’re coming!” The streets and dining rooms, hotels and trains are starting to fill.
When we were first confined a year ago March, I was walking down the street with an elderly friend. The city was so silent, and we were the only two to be seen anywhere, aside from a few buses passing in the street, empty of passengers. There were the small grey security vans holding four officers each patrolling the streets. And there was the multitude of ambulances, their sirens screaming. My friend said, “It feels just like World War II.”
I have a vivid imagination about that time, and his comment resonated. Because during our confinement Paris did have patrols of armed police in black uniforms, forming clusters in spots where the public might tend to congregate like strips of grass on boulevards, or at the water’s edge. In spite of ourselves we were afraid of these people, as it must have been during the war.
Wild With Joy
All of this to say no wonder we’re all wild with joy and excitement! The other night, during the Fête de la Musique, Paris was boiling over with crowds on most street corners, along the quais, everywhere. A simple café expres at the local feels like a three-star meal; a three-star meal feels like a trip to heaven.
Picnics and Dinners
And we can have picnics and dinners without worrying, so this dessert that I’ve made for you must be part of your next supper! It’s a tender, succulent bread pudding that’s part of our “leftover” series, guaranteed to please the chocolate lovers in your life. It’s very easy; you can vary it all you like using different tones of chocolate, orange or lemon zest, even raspberries folded in right before baking.
Warm or Room Temperature
So, have some fun with this! It’s best warm, but if you’ve made it in the morning for supper, then don’t refrigerate it, and serve it at room temperature.
Chocolate Bread Pudding – Pudding au Chocolate
- 6 ounces;180g day old bread, cut in ½-inch (1.25cm) chunks
- 1 quart;1 liter whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean cut down its length
- 6 to 8 ounces;180-250g semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, separated
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup;150g vanilla sugar
- The zest from 1 orange minced
- To serve:
- 1/2 cup;125ml Crème fraiche
- 1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
- Butter a 6-cup (1.5l) oven-proof baking dish.
- Place the bread cubes in a heat-proof bowl. Scald the milk with the vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it is hot and before it has boiled, pour it over the bread, stir, and set aside.
- Place two-thirds of the chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat just until it melts, checking it often. Remove from the heat and reserve to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the zest if using, then gently whisk in the melted, cooled chocolate. Finally, fold in the soaked bread and milk mixture, and the reserved chopped chocolate until thoroughly combined with the custard and pour into the prepared mold. Cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake until the pudding is puffed slightly and no longer jiggly – it will not be firm, but it will be cooked through.
- Remove the bread pudding from the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack until it is lukewarm.
- While the bread pudding is cooling, whisk the crème fraîche until it is nearly stiff. Whisk in sugar to taste and refrigerate until ready to serve.