Yield: 8 servings.
6½ cups bread cubes (1 pound brioche or white bread)
1½ cups bittersweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Ice cream (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)
Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish or 9 x 13-inch pan. Toss the bread cubes with 1 cup of the chopped chocolate, and place in the prepared pan.
In a saucepan set over low heat, combine the remaining chopped chocolate with the sugar, cocoa, and milk. Cook, stirring, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is thickened and smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, and whisk in the heavy cream. Whisk in the eggs, salt, and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes, and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325°.
Bake the pudding for 45 to 50 minutes, until it’s set. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, or dusted with powdered sugar.