Chocolate Bread Pudding Stacks with Fresh Cherry Sauce

 Makes 6

 

This makes a great dessert for a picnic, served at room temperature. It's also great with a side of ice cream, sweetened whipped cream or berry sorbet.

 

 Planning Ahead
 
• Prepare the bread pudding the day before.
 • Prepare the cherry sauce the day before.  Chill.
• Toast the hazelnuts 2 to 3 days before.  Freeze.
• Stacks can be assembled early in the day and chilled.

 
TIP: The secret to good bread pudding is the bread. Do not use "airy" bread -  thick, heavy bread or pannetone works best.

 

BREAD PUDDING

11/2 cups half-and-half

1 cup heavy whipping en

1 cup shaved or chopped chocolate

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

8 cups 1-inch bread cub panettone, French, or country bread), crusts

 

CHERRY SAUCE

1 pound fresh cherries, pitted or 2 cups dried cherries, soaked in hot water to reconstitute

Pinch of cinnamon

3 tablespoons Chambord (or a raspberry syrup)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

 

 Shaved chocolate, for garnish

 Additional cherries, for garnish

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

 

Advance Preparation

To make the bread pudding, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the half-and-half and cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Place the chocolate in a large bowl and pour the hot cream over it, stirring until the chocolate is smooth and blended. Beat the eggs and sugar together, add the vanilla, and slowly stir into the chocolate. Blend well. Toss the bread cubes in the chocolate until well coated. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pudding is set and slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and cool. Cut into 9 3-inch rounds. Cut the rounds in half hori­zontally. Set aside.

 

To make the cherry sauce, place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, decrease to a simmer, and cook gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool sauce and refrig­erate until needed.

 

Assembly

Spray 6 stack cylinders with vegetable spray and place them on a sheet pan. Layer in the following order: 1 chocolate bread pudding round, 2 tablespoons slightly drained cher­ries, 1 tablespoon toasted hazelnuts, I choco­late bread pudding round (press down gently but firmly), 2 tablespoons slightly drained cherries, 1 tablespoon toasted hazel­nuts. Top with the third bread pudding round. Press down gently. Chill until serving.

To serve cold, slide a spatula under each stack cylinder and transfer to a serving plate. Unmold and garnish with shaved chocolate, additional cherry sauce and cher­ries, and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

To serve warm, bake at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes, place on plates, unmold, and garnish.