By Natalia Spampinato, Il Posto Restaurant, Denver
Makes 12-16 servings
About 8 ounces stale bread, crusts removed and cut into half-inch cubes
4 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
15 ounces Ritual Chocolate, roughly chopped
12 egg yolks
Place the bread cubes in a bowl and allow them to dry out while you make the custard.
Pour the cream, milk, sugar and salt into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until fully melted. Whisk in the eggs and yolks.
Pour the custard over the bread and mix to combine. Let stand at least one hour, stirring occasionally, so the bread can soak up the custard.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.
Pour the soaked bread into the baking dish, cover with foil and bake for one hour. Remove the foil and bake 20 minutes more. The pudding will puff up and is finished when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.
Cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting and serving. (Pudding can be completely chilled and re-heated when ready to serve.)
Spampinato recommends topping the bread pudding with chocolate sauce, cocoa crumble and toasted hazelnuts, and serving with a side of pear sorbet.
Makes 12-16 servings
2 cups water
2 cups dry white wine
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
7 pears (D'Anjou or Bartlett)
Place the water, wine, sugar and lemon juice in a large pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, peel the pears, remove the core and woody stems, and quarter them.
Add the pears to the pot, place over low heat and cook, barely at a simmer, until the pears are cooked all the way through, very tender but not falling apart. Depending on how ripe the pears are, this can take from 30 minutes (for very ripe pears) up to an hour and a half (for under-ripe pears).
Once the pears are cooked, pour them through a strainer, reserving the cooking liquid. Place the cooked pears in a blender with 1 tablespoon of the cooking liquid and blend until smooth. Chill. The remaining cooking liquid can be used as a sauce.
Allow the sorbet base to cool completely; freeze it in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Yields 3 cups
6 1/2 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until light and fluffy.
Whisk together the cocoa, flour and salt. Add to the mixer and mix on low until well combined and shaped into large crumbs.
Pour out onto a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the crumbs are crisp.
Yields one cup
2 ounces Ritual Chocolate, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons corn syrup
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
Place the chocolate, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Place the corn syrup, sugar and cream in a pot and bring to a boil. Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and everything is thoroughly combined.
Toast some hazelnuts. Spoon a little bit of the chocolate sauce and some of the pear cooking liquid onto each plate. Place a piece of warm bread pudding on top. Sprinkle with the cocoa crumble and some toasted, chopped hazelnuts. Place a scoop of the pear sorbet next to the bread pudding.
* The bread pudding can also be baked in individual molds. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the mold.
* Both the cocoa crumble and the chocolate sauce recipes yield a larger batch than is necessary to plate the desserts, but they are difficult to make in smaller quantities-and they both go great in an ice cream sundae.