Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 
    Chocolate Bread Pudding

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

Rarely does one get to celebrate two holidays in the same week, but this week we celebrate both Mardi Gras and Valentine's Day.

Celebrate Fat Tuesday with a traditional New Orleans bread pudding dessert, but make it even more sinful with chocolate in honor of the day dedicated to love.

The Aztec ruler Montezuma reportedly believed chocolate was an aphrodisiac and drank it before visiting his harem. He may not have been that far off, today scientists have linked the chemical phenylethylamine found in chocolate to feelings of excitement and pleasure.

While bread pudding is usually thought of as a purely European dish, the meal traveled to the U.S. and the habit of re-cycling day-old bread, then mixing it with milk, sugar and eggs and baking it into a luscious dessert became a New Orleans tradition as well.

Of course the most popular time to visit New Orleans is during Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras. which means "Fat Tuesday" is the last day of the Carnival season and falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It's the last day to celebrate and eat all the decadent foods you want, just like chocolate bread pudding. 

Chocolate Bread Pudding

Use your favorite chocolate for this recipe. I love dark chocolate, so I used Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate chips.

4 to 5 slices of stale French bread torn into 1-inch pieces

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups half and half milk

3 eggs

1/8th of a cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Spread the bread pieces evenly in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish or pyrex dish, then set aside.

Take 2 handfuls of chocolate chips and set aside on cutting board.

Place the rest of the chips in a medium sized bowl.

Heat the half and half to simmer in a saucepan, then remove from heat.

Pour the heated half and half over the chocolate chips in the bowl, let stand for a few minutes before stirring. Stir until smooth, then let cool, until barely warm.

In another bowl lightly beat the eggs together. Add the brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Whisk them all together until mixed.

Then add to the chocolate mixture, stirring until smooth.

Chop the 2 handfuls of chocolate chips on the cutting board into smaller, flaky pieces.

Then pour the melted chocolate mix over the bread, then sprinkle the chopped, flaky chocolate chips over all.

Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, take bread pudding out of fridge and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until set.

Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, your favorite liquour or just plain.

This turned out way better then I expected. The chocolate flavor was very rich and the stale bread took on a cake-like flavor and texture. It was really delicious.  Happy Mardi Gras and Valentine's Day.

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