While working in Yountville and managing a wine tasting room, pretty much the best part of my every day is Not the incredible wine I get to sell and taste every day, but the delivery of warm, baked, beige and brown, crunchy on the outside, moist and fluffy on the inside goodness that TK's Bakery makes every day. I am referring to Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller, pretty much the best Bakery on the face of this earth (expect for Beverlywood Bakery, Chocolate Round, West Sider's know what I'm talking about).
Keller, as the story goes, shortly after he opened the French Laundry and Bouchon, wanted to have a Yountville bakery to supply his and other local restaurants breads and pastries on a daily basis. So every day the Bouchon Bakery delivery bike (yes a bike, with a giant, warming oven box on the front) comes by and delivers our epi baguettes to the tasting room for our featured Olive Oil tastings. At around 11:15, right around the time you are almost ready for lunch, the epi comes to our door fluffy and warm, almost with steam coming up as you break the bread apart. Pretty much the best snack ever!
We always have bread left over at the end of the day, and what better application of day old bread than delicious Chocolate Bread Pudding!!!!
The next evening, letting the bread get a little tougher, I spent all of 10 minutes putting this delicious goodness together. The recipe is an adaptation of Paula Deans incredibly unhealthy recipe, making it with just a little less butter. A friend passed this recipe on to me, but failed to provide me with exact ingredients, so if you feel there is too much of one thing (sugar) and not enough of another (Frangelico/Vanilla) ... feel free to add your own twist.
Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
1-3 day old French Bread
2 cups Milk
1/2-3/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 1/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
2-4 handful of Chocolate Chips (depending on how big your sweet tooth is)
1-2T Vanilla Extract
Butter cut into cubes for top of pudding
5 eggs - optional if you want a custard like dish or exclude if you want creamy milky bread - either way is good.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Break up bread into small chunks, enough to cover a 9x13 pyrex
Combine all above ingredients, except for butter (egg is optional)
Pour over bread chunks
Let sit for 15 minutes
Put cubes of butter over top of dish
Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top