Everyone needs a killer dessert in their potluck arsenal. Chocolate bread pudding (by way of Martha Stewart) is one of mine. I'd baked my way through a handful of chocolate bread puddings before I found what might be the domestic diva's ultimate "good thing."
The others had been too bready. Too eggy. And the worst sin of all: not chocolaty enough. Martha's recipe calls for cream and eggs like the others, but it also requires a loaf of brioche, a whole vanilla bean instead of extract, and Valrhona chocolate — lots of it. She suggests cinammon too, but I've never cared for distractions when the cocoa bean is involved.
Essentially, you make a custard, let it sit a bit (I've skipped this step without ill effect), pour it over cubes of brioche, let it sit again, then bake it in a water bath. It's easier than a pie or cake — no crust, frosting, or transport anxiety — but speaks of enough culinary aplomb to mark you as a serious cook.
Martha goes for creme fraiche and chocolate curls to gild the lily. Pretty. But I prefer a scoop or two of Ben & Jerry's vanilla, which melts into the fudgy nooks and crannies in the most riveting fashion. And though I've made the pudding at least a dozen times, I only recently discovered (when I had way too much extra custard), that baked in ramekins sans broiche, it makes a smashing pot de creme.
Click here for the recipe.