Unlike an office job, where a resume and an interview can be enough to get on the payroll, applying for a culinary position usually demands a "try out". You pack your knife roll (or your icing spatulas and pastry tips if you're a pastry chef like myself), and head into a strange kitchen to be handed your assignment. Sometimes they just want to see if you can roast a simple chicken without bumbling it up, and sometimes it's like an episode of Top Chef, where you have to whip up a life or death masterpiece of a dish that will blow the mind of the head chef.
Such was the case when I was trying to nail the pastry chef spot at the White Hart Inn in rural Connecticut. I was asked to prepare a dessert that would work for the menu in their Tap Room, which is a cozy colonial tavern. I had the perfect dessert: white chocolate bread pudding. So I put on the white paper hat and and the only available size 50 chef coat (which, if I can say something here, is arguably the least sexy thing a girl can wear, especially when paired with unisex checked pants—but hey, I guess I didn't pick this profession to look good), and I got to work.
An hour and a half later I presented the chef with this luscious white chocolate bread pudding. Served just warm, the creamy, custard-soaked bread cubes melt in your mouth while the exterior is just slightly crisp and caramelized. I find French bread or croissants to be the best type of bread to use here because the crumb can take a soaking without falling apart (I used a combination of both this time because that's what I had on hand). I also slightly toast the cubes in the oven first to dry out the bread so that it can fully soak up the delicious custard.
To be honest, there is no real "secret" to this bread pudding other than that it's flavored with a heap of white chocolate. What the white chocolate does is lift the standard bread and butter pudding to high decadence but in a subtle, not in-your-face sort of way. The white chocolate heightens the butteriness of the pudding, and the creaminess of the chocolate adds a velvety texture to the custard that's divinely rich. Warm white chocolate bread pudding is the epitome of comfort dessert food.
As if this bread pudding isn't perfect already, I always pair it with a satiny white chocolate sauce to copiously drizzle over the top. Each spoonful of warm, soft pudding drenched in a pool of sauce is seriously like sex on a spoon. So much so that it perfectly pleased all who tasted it that day, and I got the job. Yep, sex sells. No matter how you disguise it.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore and is currently at work constructing her new blog, http://shophousecook.com/ .