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    Posted February 10, 2012 by
    Fairfax, Virginia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Fair-trade chocolate challenge

    Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding with Amaretto Custard Sauce


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     The chocolate cherry bread pudding with amaretto custard sauce was a winner in the CNN chocolate challenge. Read more about the winning entries here.

    chocotourist, a video producer in Lorton, Virginia, produces an online series about chocolate and people who are making it. She and the host heard about the CNN iReport chocolate challenge and wanted to participate. 'It just really bothers me that something I enjoy so much like chocolate could be produced by people that are doing it against their will. I really hope that as people become aware of the issue we can help support people who are doing it the right way, who are being ethical in their production methods.'
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    Virginia home cookin' gets a tropical twist when we use Grenada Chocolate in our cozy bread pudding.

    We used Grenada's 82% dark chocolate bar - grown, produced, and distributed by a collective of Grenada workers. Their organic chocolate is available online at www.grenadachocolate.com, in a variety of intensities (from 60-100%) as well as the 'Nib-A-licious' and the 'Salty-licious' bars.

    Make this warm bread pudding and custard sauce on a chilly day with good friends. For the pudding itself you will need:

    A loaf of challah bread, sliced into 12 pieces
    2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
    8 ounces of dark chocolate
    3 cups of heavy/whipping cream
    1 cup of milk
    1 cup of sugar
    12 egg yolks
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    pinch of salt
    dried bing cherries (to taste)
    1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur

    With the oven preheating to 425 degrees, start your cherries soaking in the Amaretto. Baste the bread on both sides with melted butter and lay the slices on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden on both sides (check it every 2 or 3 minutes to be safe).

    Coarsely chop the chocolate and melt it slowly. If you have a double boiler, great - if not, a heat-proof bowl perched over a saucepan of hot water will do the trick.

    Heat the cream and milk over medium heat, but don't let it boil. When it bubbles around the edge, it's done.

    Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together in a large bowl and slowly add the hot cream. Keep whisking, or you'll cook your eggs too fast. Once you've added all the cream, you may want to strain your mixture into another bowl and skim off any foam that appears.

    Now add the melted chocolate to your strained cream mixture. Stir in vanilla and salt.

    Drain your cherries but reserve the Amaretto for the custard sauce.

    Place bread slices in a 9x12 pan in two layers, with cherries sprinkled throughout. With great delight, pour the chocolate mixture over the challah, covering every part of the bread. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Put another pan or dish on top of the plastic to weigh down the bread and help it absorb all the chocolatey goodness. Let it stand for an hour.


    In the meantime, you can get started on the custard sauce:


    3 egg yolks
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 cup heavy/whipping cream
    1/3 cup milk
    1/4 cup amaretto (reserved from cherry soak)
    pinch of salt


    Before you get started, fill a big bowl with ice cubes. You'll need this later to cool your sauce.


    Blend the egg yolks and sugar well.


    In a saucepan, heat the milk and cream until it boils. Take the pan off the heat and carefully add about half a cup of it to your egg mixture, whisking all the while. Then, you must add that mixture back to the remaining milk and cream in the pan. Whisk, whisk, whisk! Take your time on this step. It's important to keep the mixture moving while adding hot ingredients so it will blend properly and not overcook the eggs.


    When you have everything in one saucepan, put it all back on the stove over low heat. Keep whisking until your cream starts to thicken (don't let it boil).


    Take the pan off the heat an stir in amaretto and salt. Pout it all into a bowl, which you then place in the bowl of ice. Let it chill there until you're ready to serve.


    Now check on your bread pudding! If it's pretty well absorbed, you can preheat the oven to 325 degrees and carry on with the business of getting it cooked.


    Remove the weights and plastic from the pan and cover it with foil. Poke a few holes so the steam can escape.


    Now place your bread pan in a larger baking dish. Fill the larger dish about halfway with hot water - this is an important step for achieving that perfect bread pudding texture.


    Carefully slide the pan into the oven and let it bake until most of the liquid is absorbed and the whole pudding is glossy (about 2 hours).


    Distract yourself and try not to think about how amazing your kitchen smells!


    When you're ready to serve, spoon custard sauce onto 12 plates and put a slice of pudding on each one.


    Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

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