Dark Chocolate-Pumpkin Bread Pudding

As the leaves start to fall and the air becomes a bit chilly, my craving for pumpkin-flavored food starts to appear.  My belly craves warmth, comforting food–dessert.  And, to me, nothing screams comfort like bread pudding.

I’ve found that bread pudding either evokes intense excitement or scrunched-up noses when mentioned.  Sometimes described as “soggy bread,” I wouldn’t find the dessert that enticing either.  But, after having worked in an Irish Pub for over three years, I’ve discovered the truth.  Soggy bread, as some call it, is delicious. Just look at that picture and tell me you wouldn’t want a sample.

I came across this recipe in Gourmet years back and it has stuck in my mind ever since.  Naturally, though, I found an excuse to add chocolate (like this pumpkin bread).  The result was extremely decadent, especially served warm with ice cream.  It makes a great breakfast as well!

Dark Chocolate-Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet & Martha Stewart
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
5 cups cubed day-old bread (I used challah)
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup pumpkin butter (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin, sugars, eggs, egg yolks, salt, and spices.
Toss bread cubes in melted butter in another bowl. Sprinkle in chocolate and mix again.  Transfer to a 8×8-inch square baking pan.  Pour the milk mixture over the bread and chocolate.  Dot with pumpkin butter.  Bake until the custard is set, 25-30 minutes.

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

How horrible of me!  Most people just committed (for a while, at least) to eat healthier and to lose weight during this upcoming year, and here I am posting about ginger cookies, pear bread, and other sweet goodies.  Well, I better apologize now because here I go again…

It’s just that, these cookies are SO good.  Decadent, gooey, and oh-so chocolatey, with a big PING of espresso in every bite.  Although I have previously only made these cookies over the holidays, I have started to question why they can’t be enjoyed all year-round.  After all, they are always one of the most popular cookies I make, especially right out of the oven.


I promise, the next post will be much more supportive of your resolutions.  Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2010!

Chocolate Espresso Cookies
(Adapted from Gale Gand)
Makes about 70 small cookies, or 30 large cookies

1 3/4 cups high-quality chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground espresso or other finely ground dark-roasted coffee beans
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or 1/2 cup finely chopped, bittersweet chocolate
chocolate covered espresso beans, for topping (optional)
In a medium-sized bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups chocolate chips and butter.  Microwave the mixture in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted.  Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, brown sugar and espresso until fluffy.  Stir in the chocolate mixture.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining chocolate chips.  Stir to combine.  Refrigerate cookie dough for about 1 hour, or more.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Set aside.
Form the dough into teaspoon-sized balls*, and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.  If using, top each ball with a chocolate covered espresso bean.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or the cookies begin to crack on top.
* Note: if you would like larger cookies, form the dough into tablespoon-sized balls.  The recipe should yield about 30 cookies.

Ginger Cookies with Lemon Frosting

As the cookie baking season is well underway, I thought it would be appropriate to write about one of my favorites: the ginger cookie.  Although I typically favor crunchy ginger cookies–the kind you can soften in a tall glass of milk–these are soft little cookie pillows, with a crunchy coating of turbinado sugar.  Add in a refreshingly lemon-filled frosting, and you have a cookie that is more than worthy for the holiday cookie tray.

Ginger Cookies with Lemon Frosting
(Cookies adapted from Eat Make Read)
I prefer to make these cookies bite-sized, especially if they are on the holiday cookie tray. However, the dough can also be dropped by the tablespoon, in which case you will get approximately 12 sandwiches.  Otherwise, the recipe makes about 30 bite-sized sandwiches
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup turbinado sugar (optional)
1 stick (4 oz) butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
To Make the Cookies:  Whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt together in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg and molasses.  Add the sugar mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
In the meantime, make the frosting.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the lemon zest, vanilla extract and milk.  If the frosting seems to stiff, add more milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time.  Beat the frosting on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Put the turbinado sugar in a small bowl, if using.  Roll the cookie dough into teaspoon sized balls, roll in the sugar, and place on the baking sheet.  Once the baking sheet is full, slightly flatten the balls with your fingers.  Bake for 7-8 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool completely before sandwiching two cookies together with the lemon frosting.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.