At owner Andy Shallal’s progressive coffeehouse/lounge—with two locations in DC and one in Shirlington—one of the more popular sweet treats is the white-chocolate bread pudding.
The silky dessert is laden with nubs of white chocolate, puréed banana, and golden raisins, and served with a scoop of coconut ice cream. “That’s what hits it out of the park,” Shallal says. “Vanilla works too, but not like coconut.”
The bread-pudding recipe isn’t new. The 55-year-old restaurateur has cooked it up in some of his other restaurants, including the now-shuttered Mimi’s American Bistro. But it’s been most successful at Busboys and Poets, where the kitchen plates more than three dozen a day at each location.
It’s easy to make at home, but consider a couple of Shallal’s tips. First, mix the ingredients gently: “Try to fold rather than stir,” he says. “This way it stays chunky.” Then, be sure to keep an eye on the pudding while it bakes. If it stays in the oven too long, it’ll get too dry. If it’s not cooked long enough, it’ll be too soggy.
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White-Chocolate Bread Pudding
Makes 12 servings.
1 loaf challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup puréed banana
12 ounces golden raisins
2 cups white-chocolate chips
1 quart half-and-half
1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the challah bread, banana purée, golden raisins, and white chocolate chips. In a large pot, add the half and half, heavy cream, and vanilla bean, and bring to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the vanilla bean (save it for another use). Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and gently mix well. Spread the pudding evenly in a greased 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with coconut ice cream.