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Chocolate Breakfast Pudding: Move Over French Toast!

Do you need to use up some leftover bread but don't feel like French toast (again)? How about Chocolate Breakfast Pudding? No, this isn't dessert, even though the pudding does include chocolate in its name. In fact, the pudding isn't overly sweet. It's rich in eggs and milk--lots of protein--so you won't go into a sugar high. The pudding also includes a bit of cocoa powder, which adds both taste and thickens the pudding. Sweet cinnamon, tangy dried cranberries, and a chopped banana add interest to the pudding. You can use whatever bread you have on hand, but I prefer a dark rye bread or, better yet, use the leftover rye bread from the recipe I posted this week. The rye bread will intensify the chocolate taste. Feel free to sprinkle on some chopped walnuts or pecans before baking the pudding. If you want something more decadent for breakfast, you also could sprinkle on some chocolate chips. The breakfast pudding is great dolloped with a bit of low-fat vanilla yogurt.

Chocolate Breakfast Pudding

Chocolate Breakfast Pudding -- Serve 6+

4-5 cups of bread cubes, preferably dark rye

2 1/2 cups of low-fat milk

6 eggs

2 tablespoons of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 cup of dried cranberries

1 large banana, chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips (optional)

Spray a large casserole dish (2-3 quarts) with non-stick cooking spray and spread the bread cubes in the dish. In a large bowl, whisk together well the eggs, sugar, salt, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and press the cubes down so that they are submerged (or mostly so) in the egg mixture. Sprinkle on the dried cranberries and banana pieces. Cover the casserole and refrigerate it overnight or let it sit on the counter for at least an hour so that the bread can absorb some of the egg mixture. When you're ready to bake the pudding, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, sprinkle the pudding with the nuts and chocolate chips, if you're using them, and then bake the pudding for about an hour. The pudding will puff up while baking but settle down after you pull it from the oven. Let the pudding cool a few minutes before serving it warm.

Chocolate Breakfast Bread Pudding

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