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I'm a recent convert to summer pudding, the cool and juicy dessert traditionally made by soaking white bread with a berry compote. For years, I'd thought it odd to soak white bread with berries, expecting the texture to be like a mushy jelly sandwich. And to be honest, most images of summer pudding—with a gash of blood red berries spilling out from the center—seem more suited to a slasher flick than something I want to eat. But in fact the texture of the bread becomes pleasantly soft and almost creamy as it gels with the saucy berries, and once I realized that summer pudding is basically a no-bake bread pudding, I got to thinking about other ways to present this easy, cool dessert. As in, say chocolate?
When I come up with a new idea I always do some research to ground myself, but this time, I found nothing. Nada. So I had to wing it. My vision was a creamy chocolate raspberry bread pudding made from chocolate custard soaked bread—but without the oven. To do it, I gently cooked a custard sauce of milk, cream, semisweet chocolate, and egg. After cutting pieces of soft white bread to fit my cups (for individual servings), I assembled each pudding by layering the bread, chocolate sauce, and crushed raspberries into each cup.
Patience is king with summer puddings. It takes time to allow the bread to fully absorb the liquid and "set". I let mine soak overnight in the fridge before turning it out onto a plate (digging in with a spoon works too). The texture is like a super moist and creamy layer cake, and the extra chocolate custard that didn't soak into the bread spills over the top. Though saucy enough as is, I served it on a pool of dark chocolate sauce for an extra blast of chocolate.
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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 working on her new baking cookbook, and as a recipe developer for HungryGoWhere Singapore. Check out her blog: shophousecook.com . Follow Yvonne on Twitter.