Chocolate Brioche & English Toffee Bread Pudding

This recipe is from a Charlie Trotter cookbook a friend gave me.  It is filled with the most exquisite desserts, with everything from Lavender Flan to Three-Point Peach Tart, and I can't wait to try them all.  One of the most delicious looking recipes was Chocolate Brioche--English Toffee Bread Pudding, which skyrocketed to the top of my to-make list.

This recipe took quite a bit of work to make, but getting to try these new desserts is totally worth it.  This post is actually 3 different things: a brioche loaf, chocolate pudding, and english toffee.  This was my first to try all of these.  I love a challenge.

I made this the same weekend as Carrot Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting, and it was a weekend well spent.

I started with the brioche loaf.  First, I added the yeast, water, and sugar to a small bowl and mixed.  I let the yeast sit for 5 minutes, until the mixture became slightly foamy.


Next, I whisked the eggs, salt, and a bit more sugar together in my stand mixing bowl.


I added in the yeast mixture, flour, and cocoa powder, and mixed until the dough was well combined.  Then, I added the butter and continued mixing until the dough began pulling away from the sides of the bowl.


I formed the dough into a log shape and put it in a bread loaf pan.


I set the dough aside and let it rise for 2 hours, until it had doubled in size.


Next, I baked the loaf for 45 minutes in the oven.  I set it aside to cool, covered the pan in foil, and let it sit for 2 days to dry out. I tried a piece of the finished bread, and it was chocolaty but also not sweet.  My friend said brioche makes the best french toast because it is so airy and soaks up all the egg.


After letting the bread sit, I got to work on the rest of the steps.  I needed to make the English Toffee, and to get started I added some sugar, brown sugar and heavy cream to a saucepan and heat it to medium.  Next, I  I added the butter, cut up into small cubes and mixed it in.  I stirred the caramel a bit while it cooked, but mainly tilted the pan per the original recipe directions to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan. I cooked it for a few minutes, letting the mixture bubble.


I used some brown sugar in place of regular to give that extra sweetness I love, but doing so did add a challenge in that it was more difficult to see when the mixture changed to a caramel color since it was already slightly darkened by the sugar.  Once the mixture had darkened, I removed it from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.


Once the mixture had thickened, I poured it out on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet to form a thin layer of toffee.


Next, I melted about 1/2 cup of milk chocolate in a double boiler.  I went with milk chocolate since I had a limited amount of the bittersweet to use in the pudding, and wanted to sweeten it up a bit.


I spread the melted chocolate over the toffee, and after cooling used a pizza cutter to slice it into smaller pieces.  The milk chocolate didn't fully solidify, so I put it in the freezer to get it nice and firm.


I cut the brioche loaf into pieces next and tossed them in a large bowl.


Onto the pudding!  For this, I heated some heavy cream and milk in a saucepan to boiling.  I had used up all my heavy cream, so I replaced 1/2 cup of the amount with 2% milk.  This didn't seem to affect the process.


In a bowl, I beat the egg yolks, eggs, and sugar together.


I poured some of the hot cream mixture into the eggs to temper them, mixing it well, then added it back into the saucepan.  I cooked it for about 5 minutes.


I poured the pudding into a bowl with about 1/4 cup of the chocolate and mixed it to create a chocolate pudding.  I also opted to toss in some vanilla extract.


Then, I poured the pudding over the brioche pieces and let them soak.  I turned the pieces to make sure they were thoroughly coated.


Then, I added in some of the toffee pieces and more bittersweet chocolate to finalize the deal.  I used an ounce more chocolate than the original called for.


I mixed everything together, letting the chocolate melt, then added it to a brownie pan sprayed with some nonstick baking spray.


And finally, I put the bread pudding in the oven and let it cook for about 45 minutes.  The mixture was bubbling and smelling delicious as I pulled it out of the oven.


Oh man, check out this beauty.  All of this hard work made for a not-too-sweet but delightfully chocolaty piece of paradise.  It was like a super moist brownie.


Everyone loved this recipe, and people went crazy for the toffee.  It was like a crispy piece of caramel.    This was rich and awesome without it, and one small piece fulfilled my sweet tooth.   The only thing I didn't do from this recipe was make a sauce with bananas, as it required heavy cream and I had finished mine off with the pudding. This one took a lot of work, but I was so pleased with the results and was so glad to experiment with the Charlie Trotter cookbook.  There is so much greatness to make!  I gave these to my dad along with the Carrot Cupcakes and made Father's day super special this year.

Chocolate Brioche & English Toffee Bread Pudding Recipe

Ingredients:

For the brioche:
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup unsalted butter, softened

For the toffee:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

For the pudding:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

For the brioche:
In a small bowl, mix the yeast, water, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Let it for 5 minutes.  In a large stand mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, remaining sugar, and salt.  Add the yeast, flour, and cocoa, and mix well.  Add the butter and continue mixing until the dough begins to form together and pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl.  Form the dough into a log shape and place in a bread loaf pan.  Let rise in a warm place 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-45 minutes.

For the toffee:
Add the sugar, brown sugar, and heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the butter and bring the mixture to a boil.  Allow the caramel to bubble as it cooks, swirling the pan to stir, until it becomes caramel colored.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, until it thickens.  Pour the caramel out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  In a double boiler, melt milk chocolate over boiling water.  Spread over the cooled toffee and allow chocolate to solidify.  Use a pizza cutter to slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.

For the pudding:
Add heavy cream and milk to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar.  Pour some of the hot cream into eggs to temper, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Place about 1/4 cup of the bittersweet chocolate in a bowl and pour pudding over the top and stir.

To make the bread pudding, cut the brioche into cubes and add to a small bowl.  Pour the pudding over the bread cubes and allow to soak for a few minutes.  Gently flip cubes to coat evenly.  Mix in 1 cup of the toffee and the remaining bittersweet chocolate.  Add to a brownie pan coated with nonstick baking spray or butter and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into squares.

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