Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
6 cups dry firm white bread cubes or dry French bread cubes*
1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds
3 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
Brown-Sugar Sauce (recipe below)
Place dry bread cubes in the bottom of a well-buttered 13x9x2-inch baking dish (3-quart rectangular). Sprinkle the chocolate and pecans, walnuts, or almonds over dry bread cubes and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Pour egg mixture over the bread, the chocolate chips, and the nuts. Gently push down on the bread cubes with the back of a large spoon, making sure the bread absorbs the egg mixture, and the chocolate pieces and nuts are covered with the egg mixture.
Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. If the top starts to over-brown, cover loosely with foil until custard is set. Cool the bread pudding slightly. Serve warm with Brown-Sugar Sauce. Makes 12 servings.
In a small heavy saucepan, stir together 1 cup packed brown sugar and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Stir in 1/2 cup water. Add 2/3 cup half-and-half or light cream, 1/4 cup light-colored corn syrup and 2 tablespoons butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly (mixture may look curdled). Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Serve warm over bread pudding. (Cover and chill any leftover sauce for up to 3 days.) Makes 1-1/2 cups sauce, twelve 2-tablespoon servings of sauce.
*To dry bread cubes: Spread the bread cubes in a shallow baking pan. Bake in 300 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until dry, stirring twice; cool.