One day I’m going write a cookbook called “52 Bread Puddings for 52 Sunday Brunches.” It will put to good use all the leftover challah from Shabbat and holiday meals. Instead of shoving the odds and ends into the freezer (with the often unrealized intention of making bread crumbs), I’ll concoct a series of sweet and savory bread pudding recipes. Of course, there’s nothing new about re-purposing bread and transforming it to another dish for another day (think panzanella salad, French onion soup, stuffing), but when using challah leftovers the re-purposed dishes have a distinctly Jewish flavor and “soul.”
This White Chocolate-Sour Cherry-Browned Butter Challah Pudding (whew!) is the lavish result of a frugal plot. Composed of leftover challah, Sparkling Sour Cherry Float remnants, and the standard fridge triumvirate of butter, eggs, and milk, it has modest beginnings but a rich finish.
The white chocolate chips provide a sweet, melty contrast to the sour cherries, and the thick custard that binds the recipe together adds a tart edge. This bread pudding would be the star of any Sunday brunch, and also doubles as a dairy-delicious Shavuot dessert.
White Chocolate Cherry Challah Pudding
Yields 3-4 cups of liquid (about 6 serves)
Butter, or cooking spray for casserole dish
8 cups stale challah cubes* (5-6 1-inch slices)
4 tablespoons butter
1½ cups white chocolate chips
Reserved Sparkling Sour Cherry Float cherries or 1 can of Morello cherries, drained
1 cup milk (not skim)
1 cup sour cream, Greek yogurt, crème fraiche
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or ½ vanilla bean scrapings
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or white choc chips, optional
1. Place challah cubes in a well-buttered casserole dish (13″x9″).
2. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, constantly swirling pan until butter is dark golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). Drizzle the browned butter evenly over the challah cubes.
3. Spread the chocolate chips and cherries over the challah cubes. Set aside momentarily as you prepare the custard.
4. In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs, then add the milk, sour cream/greek yogurt/crème fraiche, sugar, and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Push down on the bread cubes with the back of a spoon, making sure the bread is submerged and fully absorbing the eggy mixture.
5. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Bake uncovered at 350F for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown, and when a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Optional: Melt extra choc chips (semi-sweet or white) and drizzle artfully over cooled pudding.
*To dry challah cubes: Spread the challah out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 300F for 10-15 minutes, stirring 2 or three times.