Creamy, toothsome chocolate bread pudding. Stale the bread for optimal results, and serve with a dollop of whipped soy cream or vanilla coconut ice-cream.
Note for the bread - challah, french, italian, whatever you've got, just keep the texture simple - don't use sticks and stones bread.
6 C bread, at least 1 day stale, cut to 1" cubes*
3 C non-dairy milk, divided - coconut, almond or soy are best
3 T corn starch
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 C sugar
1 T vanilla extract
.5 t cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
pinch fine ground black ro white pepper
non-hydrogenated margarine for pan prep
*alternatively, toast fresh bread cubes lightly til dry
Lightly coat the interior of one 8- or 9-inch square pan or 10 individual 6-8-ounce oven-safe ramekins with margarine, set aside. Place bread cubes in a large bowl and leave aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat .75 C nondairy milk until just boiled and pour over chocolate. Stir briefly and then let stand 5 minutes. Stir with a fork until homogenous.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch with just enough non-dairy milk to create a slurry. Turn the heat to medium and whisk in the chocolate mixture, and remaining milk. Cook until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is somewhat thickened - bring to a boil but do not allow a sustained boil. whisk in the cinnamon and vanilla.
Remove from heat and cool briefly before pouring over the cubed bread. Stir lightly to coat all pieces and let stand 15 minutes for even absorption.
At this point, you may fold in chocolate chips, toasted nuts, coconut flakes, fruit or whatnot to your liking; 1-2 C of mix-ins would be appropriate.
Spread the bread mixture into the prepared pan and bake until any loose liquid is bubbling, and the top is puffy and lightly browned, about 30 mintues for a 8 x 8 pan, closer to 18 for individual ramekins. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.